Long term strategic vision, vital to leveraging sustainable infrastructure, stakeholders agree at roundtable

26/06/2018
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Africa has huge infrastructure gap, estimated at $130-170 billion per year. However, this infrastructure gap goes beyond just financing. There is a lack of good governance of infrastructure too.

This was the focus of the Second Global Roundtable on Infrastructure Governance, organized by the African Development Bank and World Bank, which kicked off in Grand Bassam, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, on 21 June 2018, under the theme “Building the right infrastructure for tomorrow”.

Highlighting the critical contributions of the African Development Bank to infrastructure financing and governance in Africa, the Director for Infrastructure and Urban Development, Amadou Oumarou said that there is an urgent need to build a sustainable infrastructure, which is the responsibility of governments, private investors, international organizations and project beneficiaries. “This requires a strategic vision driven by all actors,” he underscored.

Oumarou made these submissions during the panel discussion on the difficulties of designing a crucial and strategic vision for infrastructure. The panelists discussed the key obstacles for preparing and implementing long term strategic vision. Reflecting on factors and lessons from successful cases around the globe, they observed that an appropriate strategic planning is critical to infrastructure sustainability. Nevertheless, it is also indispensable to plan on the long term, with the involvement of the private investors as well as projects beneficiaries.

Drawing upon country-level experiences, the panelists cited the cases of South Africa and Morocco, where the governments made it a commitment to prepare and follow up a long term strategic vision for infrastructure. These two countries were successful cases to learn from, due to government’s support to the investment plans, and the commitment to work with the private sector. They also consented to the need for bilateral agreements at project preparation between the private sector and the governments. This, they said, is instrumental in mobilizing resources and undertaking the technical works. However, much time should be invested in the preparation phase than implementation period. The panel members comprised Soumaia Liboukili, Chief of transport at Morocco Economy and Finance Ministry; Himesh Dhungel, MCC Senior Strategy Adviser for infrastructure and private sector; Chukeka Mhlongo, DBSA’s General Manager for Infrastructure Finance; Amadou Thierno Diallo, Islamic Development Bank’s Director of Global Practices, Economic and Social Infrastructure; Isabelle Van Grunderbeck, Regional Representative of the European Investment Bank and Marc Teysier d’Orfeuil, Délégué general, Club PPP, MedAfrique.

Earlier, a panel discussion on - Why infrastructure is so hard to get right? – reflected on the main governance issues and bottlenecks to successful infrastructure investments, and what can be learnt from the cases that were successful and the way forward. The session was moderated by Tom Barret, Chairman OECD Infrastructure Forum, with key presenters such as Pascale Dubois, World Bank Vice-President for Integrity; Freddy Kita, DRC’s International Cooperation Vice-President; Charle-Henri Maleko, Director General of Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Infrastructure Investment (Affiliated to the Agence Française de Development-AfD); Sydney Domoraud, Managing Partner of Energy, Mining. Infrastructures, Real Estate (EMIRE) and Tafadzwa Pasipanodya, Partner at Foley Hoag.

Exploring the strategies for building the right infrastructure and winning the war against corruption, panelists noted that a stable political, economic legal regime and environment was desirable.

They argued that private investors generally look at returns on investment in infrastructure business as a priority rather than ensuring long-term public interest. The discussions focused on the importance of a strategic planning involving the government, the project beneficiaries as well as the private investor, while undertaking the economic evaluation prior to launching a viable infrastructure project.

They also stressed the need for the private investors, not only to deliver under a high level of good governance, but invest in sustainable infrastructure and also plan for long term technological update.

Building on cases in Africa and other parts of the world where public-private partnership investment were made for infrastructure projects, panelists expressed the need for private investors and international organizations to work together. They said PPPs financing is a good way to mobilize funds and should be adapted to Africa, but the need for a win-win policy was also highlighted. Africa should also consider PPP as an effective instrument to mobilize funding and draw lessons from South Africa, where this type of investment has worked.


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