Photo: CIFOR | Flickr Creative Commons
Africa is a continent rich in natural resources and boasts a large young, ambitious, and entrepreneurial-minded population. Harnessed properly, these endowments and advantages could usher in a period of sustained economic growth and increased well-being for all Africans.
However, a lack of modern infrastructure is a major challenge to Africa’s economic development and constitutes a significant impediment to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
According to a recent report by the World Bank, there are varying trends in Africa’s infrastructure performance across key sectors and regions. In telecommunications, Sub-Saharan Africa has seen a dramatic improvement in the quantity and quality of infrastructure, and the gains are broad-based. Access to safe water has also risen, with 77% of the population having access to water in 2015, from 51% in 1990. In the power sector, by contrast, the region’s electricity-generating capacity has changed little in more than 20 years. At about 0.04 megawatts per 1,000 people, capacity is less than one-third of that of South Asia, and less than one-tenth of that of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Photo: Cristiano Zingale | Flickr Creative Commons
"The nation has a huge infrastructure deficit for which we require foreign capital and expertise to supplement whatever resources we can marshal at home. In essence, increased engagement with the outside world is called for as we seek public-private partnerships in our quest for enhanced capital and expertise. This is the way of the new world for all countries in the 21st century." – HE President Muhammadu Buhari
Within the first 100 days of his administration, President Muhammadu Buhari signaled his administration’s commitment to attracting the private capital and expertise needed to address Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit. This led to a renewed engagement between the World Bank Group and Nigeria to enhance the attractiveness of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) ecosystem in the country.
At the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) we are always trying to improve how we help countries—especially those with the greatest needs—develop strategies to attract private sector investment in much-needed infrastructure such as transport, water/sanitation, and energy. And we aren’t afraid to assess our past work to find ways to do it.
There is no doubt a significant financing gap exists for investments in infrastructure in emerging markets and developing economies, a gap that stands in the way of funding projects crucial to providing basic services to transform living conditions across the globe. We at the Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF) recognize that addressing the infrastructure gap can get us closer to eliminating poverty and boosting shared prosperity.
After attending a discussion with a prestigious panel of finance ministers and senior financiers at the event “Making Infrastructure Rewarding,”—hosted by the GIF on the eve of the IMF-World Bank Group’s 2016 annual meetings in Washington, D.C, I feel there is a lot to be optimistic about in the way infrastructure is viewed and financed using the right instruments to fill the gap.
Given the standing-room-only attendance at the event—which was also live-streamed—and the number of comments and tweets that came in using #investininfra, there is clearly enormous interest in how we get from point A to B.