A three-day meeting of African Road Infrastructure and Safety experts started in Ghana’s capital, Accra, Tuesday, to validate two documents setting up minimum standards for roads covered under the Trans African Highway Network and a Charter for improving road safety in the continent, where road crashes impact significantly on socio economic development, accounting for losses of nearly 2 per cent of GDP.
The draft Intergovernmental Agreement on the Trans-African Highway Network proposes minimum standards for the development and maintenance of the 57,233km of roads under the network that connects the capitals of African countries and the main centres of production and consumption, in order to bolster the physical, political, social and economic integration of the continent.
Experts from the ministries of works and infrastructure as well as their counterparts responsible for Transport and Safety are attending the workshop, the last validation process for the documents before submission to the third session of the African Union Conference of African Ministers of Transport, due to hold in Equatorial Guinea in the last quarter of 2013.
According to the ECOWAS Commission, from the date of its entry into force, member states will be required under the agreement to ensure that existing routes of the network under their domain comply with these standards during a window of 10 years, while those under construction have 15 years for compliance.
At 3.6 km of road per 1,000 persons, Africa’s road network lags behind the global average of 7.6 km per 1,000 persons and the current emphasis on the harmonisation of standards through the Agreement and other continental initiatives such as the implementation of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) are intended to help stimulate improvements in the continents road infrastructure.
Also, the counterpart African Road Safety Charter is expected to serve as a policy framework for road safety improvement in Africa by stimulating country-level road safety policies at the national level, engender national, regional and continental road safety programmes, contribute to better coordination of road safety and promote harmonisation of road safety data.