Africa required an estimated $360-billion to implement basic regional backbone infrastructure across the continent by 2040, African Development Bank (AfDB) manager of regional integration and trade Ralph Olaye has argued.
The implementation of sufficient African infrastructure, considered the least developed in the world, would increase the continent’s lagging competiveness in the global economy and lower the cost of doing business.
Speaking at the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) inaugural Infrastructure Africa conference, in Sandton, he said that the current infrastructure deficit was costing the continent about 2% gross domestic product (GDP) growth a year, as well as limiting intra-African trade, which currently stood at 12%.
The 2012 to 2040 Programme for Infrastruc- ture Development in Africa (Pida), a multibillion-dollar initiative led by the AfDB, the African Union and Nepad, aimed to develop a web of 37 200 km of highways, 30 200 km of railways and 16 500 km of interconnected power lines.
It also planned to add 20 101 hm3 to Africa’s current water storage capacity, 54 150 MW of hydroelectric power generation capacity and an extra 1.3-billion-ton capacity at the ports.
This excluded the multibillion-dollar investments required to develop the national infrastructure linked to the basic regional backbone to ensure full infrastructure coverage throughout Africa.
The investment would be funded through, besides others, domestic revenues or tax and revenues under an affordable ‘user pays’ model.
Pida was the successor of Nepad’s medium- to long-term strategic framework, which ended in 2012, and focused on short-, medium- and long-term current and future regional and continental infrastructure projects in transport, energy, information and telecommunications technologies.
The programme’s short-term priority action plan to deal with more immediate infrastructure needs comprised 51 regional and continental infrastructure projects to be implemented by 2020.
Pita also set medium-term aims to be achieved by 2030, and long-term aims to be achieved by 2040.
Olaye commented that over the next 30 years, infrastructure investment would need to accelerate and increase if it was to meet the expected 6.2% GDP growth.
Further, Africa’s population was expected to double by 2040 to two-billion, and Pida hoped to create about 15-million jobs through construction, operation and maintenance of the projects. Olaye believes that millions more will be created indirectly through the increased econo- mic activity generated through the projects.