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March 29, 2022 (DJIBOUTI, Djibouti): The IGAD Secretariat is hosting an African Development Bank (AfDB) mission to prepare the structuring of a new project, HORN OF Africa DIGITAL MARKET INTEGRATION (HDMI) – PHASE 1.

The Bank, based on IGAD request, has confirmed mobilization of a grant of UA 4.15 (equivalent to about USD 5.79 million) for the financing of the first phase of this regional project in the framework of the Horn of Africa Initiative (HoAI).

IGAD Secretariat had submitted a request and concept note to the AfDB in November, 2021 to support implementation of a Digital Market Integration interventions in the region. The Bank responded positively to this request on 13 March 2022 and this mission was announced by the Bank as a result of that response and confirmation of funds.

The AfDB delegation is led by Mr Samatar Omar Elmi, Chief ICT Specialist, and includes Ms Kareen Njounkwe, Senior Trade Officer; Mr Emmanuel Chisesa, Senior Procurement Operations Officer, and Mr Eric Ngode, Financial Management Consultant.

The mission kick started work on March 27 at the Secretariat Conference Hall commenced with a kick-off meeting which was presided over by Mr Josephat Onyari, IGAD Director of Administration and Finance, who on behalf of the Executive Secretary, Dr Workneh Gebyehu, welcomed the AfDB mission and commended their support to the region. Mr Onyari expressed his optimism that the mission would be successful and would ultimately lead to a mutual agreement on the project structure, objectives, components, activities and all other related details. He as well commended the support of the Bank on many other closed, in the pipeline and on-going projects.

On his part, the Head of the AfDB mission, Mr Samatar Omar Elmi expressed his thankfulness for the warm hospitality extended by the IGAD Secretariat staff. He informed the meeting that AfDB is expanding its presence and support to the Secretariat and IGAD Member States in financing this critical initiative aimed at tackling the challenges of the ICT sector during this COVID-19 pandemic.

By the end of the mission a mutual understanding of the project is to be reached by all parties. An aide memoire will be prepared, paving the way for the other subsequent steps till the final approval of the project by the Bank’s Board to be followed by the immediate implementation of the project.

During the period 2017 – 2021, the Bank had committed about USD 3.69 million to identify, for investment purposes, priority regional infrastructure projects in the sectors of transport, energy, information and communication technologies (ICT), and transboundary water resources. This master plan with its articulated priorities, implementation strategy and financial options represent for IGAD a strategic infrastructure framework that can be taken further for implementation by member states and the people. Implementation will be through national and regional approaches to contribute in strengthening regional and economic integration, and thereby promoting trade, the movement of goods and people and poverty reduction in the region. This new initiative in digital market integration is aiming to be an example of taking that framework (ICT sector) to tangible implementation to support the implementation of the AfCFTA, to enable digital trading, develop ICT-related capacities and harmonise data and regulatory frameworks.

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