MONTEVIDEO – South American rivers could be transformed into authentic waterways for transporting goods and services and connected to regional highways and railways, a process that would help spur economic development and continental integration, the CAF-Development Bank of Latin America says in a report.
The study, titled “Waterways for South American Development and Integration,” serves as the starting point for the launch of the South American Waterway Development Program, whose principal objectives are to improve regional ports, infrastructure and connectivity and identify investment projects.
The study notes that nearly 70 percent of the South American continent consists of hydrographic basins with naturally navigable rivers that offer real opportunities for the transportation of goods, economic growth and the comprehensive development of their areas of influence.
Considering that 75 percent of the continent’s surface water resources correspond to basins shared by two or more countries, the program aims to develop South America’s incipient river navigation system, which is centered on the interconnection of the rivers of the Orinoco, Amazon and La Plata basins.
Including their tributaries, those rivers constitute more than 100,000 kilometers (62,000 miles) apt for river transport.
“Improved river use would help give a boost to regional economies and at the same time push along Latin American integration, enabling us to be more competitive globally,” CAF President Luis Enrique Garcia said Friday at a forum in Montevideo aimed at sharing ideas on the waterway program.
Uruguayan Economy and Finance Minister Danilo Astori also participated in that event.