Governments called upon to do their part to attract private sector investment

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The first ever first-ever Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week came to a close on November 17, 2015 with calls on African governments to play their role in ensuring policies and reforms are consistent in order to attract private sector investment to help bridge the infrastructure deficit.

“One thing that makes it more difficult for people to invest is the change of policies whenever a regime changes,” noted Solomon Asamoah, Vice-President for Infrastructure, Private Sector and Regional Integration at the African Development Bank (AfDB). “You need to be sure that circumstances in your country remain consistent. Governments must do their part in ensuring that policies are followed through at all levels when dealing with private sector and potential partners.”

The private sector has been identified as a key partner in tackling the continent’s massive infrastructure deficit of US $95 billion per annum. “Every deficit is an opportunity. We would like to see African businesses being part of the solutions to fix infrastructure,” said Asamoah.

This infrastructure has to be quality, participants agreed, with the need to observe standards emerging as a key issue. At the close of the five-day meeting, recommendations were made that the African Union Commission (AUC) should collaborate with Regional Economic Communities to harmonize standards in road designs and implementation of all infrastructure projects. Already, standardization of documents has been adopted, according to Aboubakari Baba-Moussa, AUC’s Director of Infrastructure and Energy.

Alex Rugamba, AfDB’s Director for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, emphasised the need for all projects to connect to rural areas, serving all populations in order to promote inclusive growth. “Roads should connect to feeder roads in rural areas, the same as the interconnection of rural power projects. Development must be inclusive,” he said.

The German Government expressed its interest in sharing best practices in renewable energy that will help to boost Africa’s efforts of providing electricity access to its populations. About 30 percent of Germany’s electricity supply comes from renewable energy, noted Christoph Rauh, Head of Division in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The AfDB reiterated its support for African Governments. Over the last decade the AfDB has invested directly more than US $30 billion in infrastructure, which has constituted over 50 percent of the Bank’s lending activities.

PIDA is a joint initiative of the AfDB, Africa Union Commission (AUC), and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). It seeks to promote regional economic integration by bridging Africa’s infrastructure gap that hampers the continent’s competitiveness in the global market.

Held from November 13 to 17, PIDA Week attracted about 150 participants, including infrastructure commissioners from the African Union, infrastructure experts from development institutions, regional economic communities, the United Nations, and the private sector. The meetings took place at the AfDB headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, under the theme “Accelerating Infrastructure Implementation for Africa’s Integration”.