Infrastructure Deficiency Remains Serious Constraint on Africa’s Growth

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group President, Donald Kaberuka, says deficient infrastructure remains a serious constraint on Africa’s growth and competitiveness. Mr. Kaberuka said this last week in Tunis, Tunisia, while addressing a meeting organized by the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) on the theme: "Financing Transport for Growth in Africa". He added that the continent needed huge financing resources to fill the gap and this would require a combination of public and private resources. He took the opportunity to reaffirm the Bank Group’s commitment to work with its partners to reduce the risks and costs of doing business in Africa thereby contributing to a better investment climate on the continent. 

The objective of the conference, which ran from December 3-4, was to facilitate private sector participation in transportation projects in Africa which require financing in the short and medium term.  Some of the projects presented by country sponsors at the meeting included a container port at Mohammedia in Morocco, the Winelands and Wild Coast Toll Roads in South Africa, Mayumba Port in Gabon, the Enfidha Deep Sea Port in Tunisia and the Kazungula Bridge linking Botswana and Zambia. Useful feedback was received from participants on how to move these projects towards a bankable stage.

Chaired by the Vice President in charge of infrastructure, regional integration and the private sector,  Mandla Gantsho, closing panel discussions offered an opportunity for leading experts to share lessons from successful public-private partnerships (PPPs) in Africa’s transport sector, as well as key cross-cutting issues such as cost recovery and maintenance, internal resource mobilization and road safety. More than 100 participants attended the meeting, including project developers, transaction advisors, representatives of multilateral and bilateral donor agencies, regional economic communities (RECs) and the NEPAD Secretariat.

Transport networks contribute to the continent’s economic development in many respects. They ensure connectivity and mobility within countries and across regions. They also connect rural regions with the markets and resolve congestion in cities. To enable the continent to make up for the infrastructure deficit, public resources will be used, in various ways, to involve the private sector in infrastructure development efforts. Mobilizing resources, especially from the private sector, is one of the pillars of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), an initiative created five years ago by the African Union to boost the continent’s economy.