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Working Paper 45 - Commercial Infrastructure in Africa: Potentials and Challenges


The above analysis centered on the commercializing of African infrastructure since the earl, l990s. As revealed by the analysis, African countries were reluctant to privatize infrastructure because of the perceived importance of the sector to the economy. Indeed even when privatization was pursued as second-best to commercialization and performance contracting under public-ownership, it was primarily on the basis of securing private-sector management without having to relinquish control of the entity. But the inability of African countries to overcome the economic down-draft of the Debt Crisis of the 1980s required that greater attention be paid to the development of their private sector. Moreover, in this effort they have found multilateral and bilateral donors willing collaborators, even to the point of offering substantial debt forgiveness condition on evidence of a market-oriented economy. Furthermore, because of the mutually reinforcing characteristics of external assistance and internal reforms, African countries have become more comfortable with the process and, as shown in Appendix 1, have done more to privatize their infrastructure sectors since 1995 than in the decade prior. Indeed, the progress that has been made in the privatization of infrastructure in the last two years and the turnaround in attitudes toward, private participation in the sector have done much to render existing literature based or events prior to 1996 historical perspectives rather than analyses of current trends.

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