the African Development Bank’s Director for Regional Development and Regional Integration, Moono Mupotola, reflects on the challenges and pace of infrastructure development on the continent.
Mupotola observes that the Bank’s role as financier, facilitator and honest broker in the actualization of infrastructure projects is helping to build the much-needed capacity and institutional frameworks on the continent.
These will be crucial for establishing good governance and structuring disciplined financing required to deliver smart infrastructure in energy supply, regional transport corridors, internet connectivity as well as trans-boundary water management. Excerpts:
With the 2018 PIDA Week focusing on the theme, ‘Realizing Africa’s Integration through Smart Infrastructure and Good Governance’ what are your thoughts and expectations for this year’s event and what can participants expect in terms of outcomes?
Given that the interests and challenges in developing infrastructure are common across countries, international good practices can help governments better seize opportunities and meet related challenges.
One natural starting point in this case is to assess the challenges that arise when governance arrangements fall short of stipulated requirements and benchmark.
Poor governance is a major reason why infrastructure projects fail to meet their timeframe, budget and service delivery objectives.
Infrastructure projects with deficient governance often result in cost overruns, delays, underperformance, underutilization, accelerated deterioration due to poor maintenance, and, occasionally, expensive “white elephants” and bridges-to-nowhere.
Based on the above, I expect that this year’s event will enable participants and policy makers to appreciate the role of governance in infrastructure development. This will include understanding of the processes, tools and norms of interaction, and the decision-making and monitoring framework used to monitor implementation of infrastructure projects.
What will differentiate 2018 PIDA Week from previous editions of the annual, week-long infrastructure marketing platform? What key projects will be on display?
PIDA Week was inaugurated in 2015 as a platform to bring together key stakeholders involved in the implementation of the PIDA programme, to take stock of progress and identify ways to continue to advance implementation.
While the focus of the first PIDA Week was on accelerating infrastructure implementation for Africa’s integration, the aim of subsequent meetings of PIDA held in 2016 and 2017 was creation of jobs through regional infrastructure development.
To this end, this year’s event while still focusing on infrastructure development, brings in two dimensions to infrastructure development and these are (i) the need for good governance when developing regional projects; and (ii) the role of good governance in infrastructure development to realizing Smart Infrastructure for Africa’s Integration.
With respect to the projects which will be showcased at the 2018 PIDA Week, these will include regional infrastructure transport projects like 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.
Regional power projects will also be showcased, so here we have the Ethiopia-Sudan Power Interconnector, Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya Power Interconnection, Batoka Hydropower Plant, and Inga III Hydropower project.
The first PIDA Priority Action Plan (PIDA- PAP 1:2012 -2020) comprises more than 400 projects in 51 cross-border programmes, out of which more than a third are operational or under construction. What needs to be done to fast track implementation towards completion of more projects before the 2020 milestone year?
In order to fast track implementation of more PIDA projects before 2020, Africa, together with its key stakeholders which include Multilateral Development Banks should up its game in mobilizing domestic resources to fund project preparation as well as investment of PIDA projects.
To this end, we need to operationalize the 5% Agenda by encouraging African sovereign wealth funds and pension funds to invest a greater part of their assets in development of PIDA projects.
On the other hand, MDBs including the African Development Bank should provide a mechanism for de-risking the projects through development of innovative risk mitigating instruments as well as Special Purpose Vehicles in which pension, insurance and sovereign wealth funds can easily invest.
Good governance in the implementation of infrastructure projects is also key to building confidence of donors and financiers.
Growing investor confidence in sub-Sahara Africa would certainly attract more investor interest and capital to the continent. Establishing good governance frameworks and mechanisms for sub-Sahara Africa infrastructure projects would not only boost investor confidence, it would also guarantee timely delivery of projects, within budget and to specification.
Despite ongoing investment in infrastructure development across Africa, only 30 percent of Africa’s population has access to electricity, less than 10 percent is connected to the internet and only 25 percent of Africa’s road network is paved. What in your view should be the infrastructure priorities of the next decade under the proposed second PIDA Priority Action Plan (PIDA- PAP 2:2020 -2030)?
One of Africa’s top developmental challenges continues to be the shortage of physical infrastructure. Greater economic activity, enhanced efficiency and increased competitiveness are hampered by inadequate transport, communication, water and power infrastructure.
The world is eager to do business with Africa, but finds it difficult to access African markets, especially in the interior, due to poor infrastructure.
Thus, going forward, transport, energy, water, and ICT will continue to be a priority under PIDA Priority Action Plan 2020-2030.