Why Proper Structuring Infrastructure Projects in Africa is Priority

25Jan 2020
Ibrahim Mayaki
The Guardian
Why Proper Structuring Infrastructure Projects in Africa is Priority

Since the Dakar Financing Summit in June 2014 and President Macky Sall’s push to advance high-impact projects across the continent, including those of integrated corridors with a regional dimension, ambitious national and transnational projects have been presented each year.

Infrastructure Projects in Africa is Priority

According to figures released by the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) in 2018, the level of Africa’s infrastructure commitments have exceeded US$ 100 billion, for the first time, a 24% increase compared to 2017.

African governments were the main source of infrastructure financing, with US$ 37.5 billion dollars (37% of total commitments), followed by China, which committed 25.7 billion dollars (25% of total commitments). On its part, the private sector only contributed by US$ 11.8 billion (12% of total commitments). Given the high potential for significantly heifer private sector investment, our efforts must be concentrated in structuring infrastructure to meet investment requirements.

The time required to properly develop and structure infrastructure projects is long, in the best case usually between taking between three to seven years before reaching financial close. Moreover, according to an Okan / CEO Forum report, 83% of African Public-Private Partnerships are abandoned, not because of lack of funding, but because they are poorly designed or not commercially viable. Project development costs for large-scale PPP infrastructure projects can account for 5% to 10% of the total project investment.

To avoid this loss of time and money, AUDA-NEPAD and its partners have developed a series of tools to support the preparation and financing upstream of Africa’s regional and national infrastructure projects to enable more effective definition and structuring aligned with investor requirements. Related funding mechanisms are required to cover the costs of project development including project management, transactions advisory, technical studies (pre-feasibility, engineering, feasibility, socioeconomic development, environmental), business plans, financial models, among others.

The high level of technical challenges, from the complexity of the different environments to the the transnational nature of certain infrastructure projects – such as the 330 KV transmission project of Niort Core crossing four countries (Nigeria, Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso) – require a very high level of expertise and the mobilisation of many international operators, therefore resulting in additional costs.

Thanks to specific technical assistance mechanisms, such as the SDM (Service Delivery Mechanism), the preparatory studies for the construction of the 1,000 km section between Abidjan and Lagos have mobilised joint financing of US $ 22.7 million from the AfDB and the European Union. A team of experts worked for 18 months during the preparatory phase in Lagos to enable the establishment of the Abidjan-Lagos corridor. This project has led, within ECOWAS, to the signing of a multilateral treaty between the Heads of State and Government of Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo, creating a supranational authority, the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Management Authority (ALCoMA), a first in Africa. ALCoMA will facilitate the management and coordination of the entire project cycle, from preparation to construction, including operation and maintenance.

Following the same inclusive and integrative logical thinking, the LAPSSET megaproject in East Africa, estimated to cost in total US$ 25 billion, is an example of a significant government initiative aimed at establishing transnational partnerships between public and private institutions. Projects in development include Lamu Port in Kenya, a normal gauge railway line linking Juba to southern Sudan and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, the development of a broad road network, two pipelines in southern Sudan and Ethiopia, an oil refinery in Bargoni, Kenya, three airports, among other projects. This ambitious series of projects involve a cross-section of national and international investors, both debt and equity.

In order to facilitate and deepen the public-private dialogues required to remove one of the main obstacles to infrastructure development on the continent — the lack of consideration of private sector constraints in the implementation of major projects — the Continental Business Network (CBN) was launched on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, in June 2015. Private sector leaders are systemically invited to share their advice and capacity in order to advance the critical infrastructure projects being advised by AUDA-NEPAD.

It is crucial that we work actively to fill our infrastructure gaps – by addressing the broader issue of integrated approaches to infrastructure development while building partnerships with key stakeholders: the private sector, institutional investors, African governments and willing development partners.

We need to engage together across the public and private sectors in collaborative frameworks to further the development of initiatives such as the 5% Agenda to mobilise funding from African pension funds and the Africa Infrastructure Guarantee Facility to scale guarantees, creating the enabling environments required to attract more private capital to Africa’s infrastructure.

Source:AUDA –NEPAD