Closing Africa’s infrastructure gap is a top priority to put the continent on a path for double digit growth and sustainable development. This is according to world-renowned professor of economics, Jeffrey Sachs.
“There is no choice, Africa needs 10 per cent per year of economic growth in the next 15 years,” Professor Sachs said. The only way to achieve this, according to him, is to focus on large-scale investments in trans-national infrastructure projects in power, roads, broadband, and other core regional infrastructure needs.
Professor Sachs spoke on the side-lines of the Third Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The event themed “Unlocking Public and Private Capital for African Infrastructure,” which was organised by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).
Thousands of delegates descended on Addis Ababa to set the new financing architecture for a new global partnership earlier in July. Its outcomes will also address the issue of means of implementation, referring to the ‘how’ the goals set out in the post-2015 development agenda can be achieved.
For Africa to realise the 2030 timeframe, Professor Sachs, Director of the SDSN and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals, urged the global community to rally around the NEPAD agenda, as the continent’s strategy for implementing cross-border infrastructure projects. “We need to help support NEPAD achieve its goals”, he said.
The NEPAD Agency has identified Africa’s most important infrastructure needs within the context of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), which provides the framework to implement 51 priority programmes and projects in the sectors of energy, transport, broadband and trans boundary water.
Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD Agency, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, highlighted that Africa’s challenge was not a lack of resources, but a lack of bankable projects. “We need to invest in the capacity to invest”. It is about proposing structured projects, he said. The CEO mentioned the complementary instruments that have been developed to build the necessary capacity for early-stage project preparation and the Africa50 Fund to finance the implementation of PIDA and other regional infrastructure projects. Dr Mayaki also underscored the important role of Regional Economic Communities in providing the enabling environment for project implementation, through harmonised policies and regulatory frameworks.
Speaking on the issue of how to crowd in investment, Professor Sachs encouraged African economies to forge partnerships with East Asia, tap into capital markets and strengthen continental bodies such as the NEPAD Agency and African Development Bank.