Experts weigh Africa’s infrastructure needs against rapid urbanization

03Dec 2018
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Experts weigh Africa’s infrastructure needs against rapid urbanization
  • Despite challenges, “PIDA is already moving the development needle,” African Development Bank expert says.

Experts attending this year’s Africa infrastructure conference say the continent needs to accelerate its infrastructure development to match the continent’s growing population and rapid urbanization to achieve development goals.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

The experts from multilateral development institutions observed that with rapid urbanization and a tenfold increase in water needs for energy production, there is an urgent need to mobilize more financial and technical resources for infrastructure projects and plans, to support the continent’s economic development goals.

 Furthermore, Africa’s population is projected to reach 1.6 billion by 2030, according to the United Nations, that would further put pressure on water resources and food production sectors.

 According to the African Union Commission, the poor state of infrastructure in Sub-Sahara Africa in respect to electricity, water, roads and ICT, reduces national economic growth by 2 percent and productivity by as much as 40 percent.

 “Empirical evidence however suggests that PIDA is already moving the development needle. It will provide the backbone for Africa’s regional integration, trade, investment, food security and competitiveness as economic corridors are beginning to develop through newly constructed road networks and one-stop border posts,” Moono Mupotola, The Bank’s  Director for Regional Development and Integration, said.

Mupotola’s remarks underscored expert reviews of regional infrastructure projects in the transportation (roads, rail, aviation), energy and power sectors, under the first PIDA Priority Action Plan (PIDA- PAP 1:2012 -2020) being showcased and profiled at PIDA Week 2018.

 Infrastructure transport projects being discussed include the Central Corridor Dar es Salaam to Chalinze Toll Road; the Kinshasa-Brazzaville Road and Railway Bridge; the High-Speed Rail Network (HSRN); the Abidjan-Lagos corridor and Praia-Dakar-Abidjan corridor projects; and the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative.

Four regional power projects are also being showcased, namely, the Ethiopia-Sudan Power Interconnector, Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya Power Interconnection, Batoka Hydropower Plant, and Inga III Hydropower project.

The capital cost of delivering the PIDA-PAP is estimated at US$68 billion or US$7.5 billion annually.

Projections by analysts at the African Development Bank and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) show that delivery of the PIDA Energy Road Map would also boost industrialization and promote regional cooperation and energy efficiency through regional power pools.

Presently, 32 percent or 131 of all 433 PIDA projects under the PIDA priority action plan are under construction or already operational, says Symerre Grey-Johnson, Head of NEPAD’s Partnerships, Regional Integration, Infrastructure and Trade Division.

According to officials from the PIDA Secretariat, the continent did not have any One-Stop-Border Post prior to 2009. Currently, 76 One-Stop-Border Post projects have been identified across Africa’s regional economic communities and PIDA: 10 have been completed in East, Southern and West Africa, 12 are under construction, five are being planned and 49 are awaiting possible design and construction.

Africa’s integration agenda is currently experiencing a momentous phase with the recent launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the creation of the SAATM. The PIDA agenda is critical to both initiatives.  Forty-four African states have signed the soon to be ratified consolidated text of the AfCFTA.

The Core Team on SAATM Infrastructure led by NEPAD is partnering with the Bank, the African Union Commission, the International Civil Aviation Organization and other partners to reduce fares and costs of travel by 50 percent. It hopes achieve air traffic double-digit growth rates in Africa by 2023.

Deliberations at this year’s gathering of key players in Africa’s infrastructure space are being held on the theme, ‘PIDA Implementation through Good Governance – Realizing Smart Infrastructure for Africa’s Integration.’