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A critical piece of the infrastructure puzzle: good governance

Chris Heathcote's picture



A major factor hindering infrastructure implementation and delivery is the absence of good governance, according to the 130 delegates from 27 countries who came together for the first Regional Roundtable on Infrastructure Governance in Cape Town in November.
 
There’s no denying infrastructure is crucial to Africa’s growth prospects. Nor can one ignore the ever-growing need for infrastructure on the continent—in Sub-Saharan Africa, only 35% of the population has access to electricity, and 23% still lack access to safe water and sanitation. Despite an estimated shortfall of nearly $100 billion in infrastructure investment in Africa, lack of financing is not the biggest problem.
 
The landmark Roundtable brought together representatives from African governments, the global private sector, multilateral and international organizations, civil society organizations and other development partners, for a discussion on the challenges and practical solutions to the governance impeding successful infrastructure delivery in Africa.

So, why is infrastructure so hard to get right?
 
Pipelines, strategic plans, transparency and trust are vital, said World Bank Group Global Themes Vice President Hartwig Schafer, in his opening ceremony remarks. The private sector is increasingly interested in infrastructure assets in Africa, but only when it can see a government’s strategic vision and how projects fit with that vision, reaffirmed Meridiam’s Founding Partner and CEO Thierry Deau.
 
But, as Thomas Barrett, Chairman of the OECD Infrastructure Forum, reminded delegates: infrastructure procurement and delivery is as much a matter of managing expectations as it is of managing processes.
 

 


While identifying a long list of projects is relatively easy, prioritizing them is not. It requires governments to negotiate the inevitable trade-offs of limited fiscal space, competing interests from stakeholder groups and the pressure of immediate needs versus long-term prospects.
 
The purpose of this Roundtable series is to not just talk about the problems, but also to share practical tools and frameworks that can help drive change, whether that be in project prioritization, or through standardizing contractual PPP provisions and PPP risk allocation arrangements.
 
Through in-depth breakout sessions on both days, delegates were given insights into a range of tools created by development partners. Perhaps more importantly, the ‘speed-dating’ sessions provided examples of projects and programs that had, or currently were, embodying best practice outcomes.
 
But beyond prioritization and planning, improving infrastructure governance requires a political will to address the cancer that is corruption and broken models to move a country towards a system that attracts investment on a sustainable basis. It goes beyond the financial costs and benefits of projects—or the economic impacts—to consider the human impacts, both positive and negative.
 
This theme, and a call for meaningful community engagement and projects that are sustainable— economically, environmentally and socially—is a theme that most discussions at the Roundtable came back to.
 
Ultimately, infrastructure cannot and will not succeed if it is done to people, rather than with them.

Representing the civil society organizations and some of the most disadvantaged elements of society, Executive Director of Oxfam South Africa, Sipho Mthathi, challenged the government representatives at the event to approach infrastructure as a partnership with their communities. She said this is the only way to build trust, and ultimately improve a project’s chance of success. But it relies on government processes being transparent, data and information being made available throughout the project lifecycle, and prioritizing the needs and rights of the most vulnerable members of society.
 
There is no doubt that good infrastructure governance is a challenge, with no single ‘silver bullet’ solution. Developed and developing countries alike struggle at a system and project level, but through fora like this Roundtable series, the partners are confident that we are building a community of practitioners equipped with tools and knowledge that can be implemented and drive change. 
 
This event is just the first of two in Sub-Saharan Africa, the partners are planning several other Roundtables as part of a broader series, to take place in various regions throughout 2018. Stay tuned for more details!
 
We encourage all interested parties to continue to engage with the series and the topics it raises. Follow #infragovernance on Twitter to stay up-to-date.
 
You can find the Chairman’s statement, released following the event, here.
 
The Regional Roundtables on Infrastructure Governance are delivered by the following parties:


Disclaimer: The content of this blog does not necessarily reflect the views of the World Bank Group, its Board of Executive Directors, staff or the governments it represents. The World Bank Group does not guarantee the accuracy of the data, findings, or analysis in this post.


Related posts:

Catalyzing Change: Regional Roundtables on Infrastructure Governance
 
Getting infrastructure right: the OECD framework for better governance
 
The PPP Reference Guide: Strengthening infrastructure governance through public-private partnerships
 
 

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

Good governance is critical to delivery of infrastructure as rightly observed. This should include strengthening the institutions of governance by making them efficient and responsive to their mandate. Rule of law need to to take prominent attention to be able to provide necessary comfort to the investors in infrastructure projects. The very large young population of the continent will provide a better return on investment in the long run and the infrastructure can contribute significantly to economic growth and employment generation. The leaders in the continent need to address the problem of corruption in the process of delivery of infrastructure.

Submitted by Dr. Mohamed Taher Abdelrazik Hamada, Ph.D on

Access to electricity , safe water, and healthy sanitation is critical issue . Good governarance can put
this issue as a top priority in their agenda. Taking care of infrastructure specially in Sub Saharan Africa is a crucial matter that should be taken care by the governments of these countries , as we all know there are
many pioneering projects to fulfill this issue by these governments and by the right aid of the World Bank
Roundable negotations by the concerned governments should not talking or raising issues , but they should
come with solid handy solutions .
Corruption must be avoided completely , money must be allocated to the right benefits of infrastructures that can help the majority of marginal populatios of these countries and not to waste
money through corruptive agencies . All agencies of good governarnce and civil society must be
respresented in all models of infarstructure.
Yours Very Respctfully,
Dr. Mohamed Taher Abdelrazik Hamada, Ph.D

Submitted by Anand Srivastava on

Excellent blog.

It is eveident that the private capaital does not flow by the mere wishes of the Government, how so ever strong. The private sector has the full power to decide where to invest their capital in the exonomies of the world and which specific projects. The private sector, interested to invest in infrastructure developement, looks at all opportunites to be assured that its capital will be safe, the governance and legal envirionment is reasonably predictable and is investment gets returns commensurate to risks while risks are with in the ragne of their individual risk appetite.

Governments, in order to attract more investments to their ailing infrastructure, need to invest in their governance to demonstrate preditabiliy of governance structure, policies and attractiveness to private capital.

Mere fact that several billions of dollars are sitting idle at manhnplaces does not attract the much needed private capital or pension funds to infrastructure projects in absence of enabling governance structure and environments or predictability.

Submitted by Kechir Brian on

What is good governance provisions better good than the ones done by the youths of a society collectively? Governments in Africa have completely well stuctured arms to steer for delivery of infrastructure. Majority of the youths are managable and can be used to achieve goals set like ones of sustainable development as they have the majority. The private sector is willing and able to fund for development projects as long as they have visions and goals for the future but is done to people not people doing it themselves.
Yes, Corruption can be a major hindrance to infrastructure resources but the youths are willing for change in their societies and they have numbers. The private sectors should invest more youths to become leaders in the governments and steer its agendas with them and address the issue of corruption blocking its available channels and accountability be made open to all.

Submitted by GILBERT OBIEFUNA on

Inter-professional, interdisciplinary membership non-statutory bodies such as NIDA should have been invited too. As it is, generally speaking, governments having these governance institutions as physicians, find it difficult to 'heal' themselves!!

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