Raila Odinga has highlighted things he wants to accomplish as Africa Union’s special envoy on infrastructure development.
Mr Odinga said he is planning to ensure that Trans-African Highway project that was launched in 1971 is completed.
The Trans-African project is a network of nine highways which, when connected, will cover a combined total of 60,000 kilometers across the continent.
“One of them will stretch 8,000 kilometers between Cairo (Egypt) and Dakar (Senegal); another for 8,000 kilometers between Cairo and Cape Town; a third for 6,000 kilometers between Lagos and Mombasa; and a fourth for 4,700 kilometers between Dakar and Lagos (Nigeria),” said Mr Odinga.
“That is the Trans-Sahelian Highway, which runs 4,500 kilometers between Dakar in Senegal and N’Djamena in Chad. Although the others are only partially finished, countries are progressively opening them section-by-section. It is just one example of what we plan to complete,” he said in his address at Duke University in the US
The ODM leader said he will make use of his new position to push Africa to economic independence.
Mr Odinga said insufficient infrastructure networks across the continent have limited cross-border flows of trade, capital, information, and people.
This, he said, has drastically affected Africa’s growth and broader development performance and regional integration.
“Improving land transportation is an imperative to development. One of my main tasks will be to garner political buy in and ownership of member states as well as ownership of regional economic communities,” he said.
Mr Odinga’s appointment has sparked debate in the political arena as Deputy President William Ruto’s allies ask him to quit local politics and focus on his new job.
But Siaya Senator James Orengo has maintained that his party leader appointment in the AU would not interfere in any way with his present position in local politics.
Mr Orengo argues that the new job will enhance the ODM party leader’s efforts in trying to bring peace and rule of law in the continent.