Cement-maker PPC and the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) have published a new report to start discussions around the sustainable development of Africa.
PPC commissioned GIBS to undertake various conversations and engagements, examining what should be the collective role of the construction, cement and the built sector towards the reconstructive efforts to rebuild the continent.
The 'Building Africa Report' outlines various innovations and case studies that could enhance the future sustainability of Africa’s infrastructure landscape, as the continent develops amid an ever-evolving world.
The inaugural PPC-GIBS Building Africa Report is part of an effort to ensure that the 130-year-old PPC stays relevant and successful in a faster and ever-changing world that demands companies to evolve.
Delving through the ever-important topics of decarbonisation, infrastructure, innovation, finance and inclusively and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, besides others, the report aims to kickstart a conversation on Africa’s future.
It was critical to develop innovation and bring new ideas from other places, with the context of the African landscape in mind, said PPC CEO Roland van Wijnen.
The challenges across Africa are not only different among the diverse countries on the continent, but also differ from the challenges seen elsewhere in the world.
“We need to think about solutions that address the challenges that we have on the continent. One of the common issues that we have throughout the continent is the fact that we are a growing population and we need to generate employment, and we can do that.”
Infrastructure development is a differentiator. There is a positive correlation between prosperity and more and better roads, buildings and ports in any society, the report points out.
“As we launch the Building Africa Report, the backdrop is the challenging environment. We have had to wrestle with Covid-19, a spectacular disruptor that wrought material economic, industrial and social challenges,” said Camm director Professor Adrian Saville.
“Just as it seems that we are recovering from that, a fresh wave of risks and threats emerge, such as Russia's war in Ukraine and the ignition of inflation, with the US, Europe and the UK dealing with close to double-digit inflation,” he said, noting that this had not been seen since the 1980s and after a decade or more of close to zero interest rates.
Further, the investment in infrastructure, in a pan-African context, takes up about 3.5% of gross domestic product (GDP), compared with the required 7%.
“The experiences of India, China and historically other impressive South East Asian and East European advances, where it has been a habit to get into the business of 5%, 6% or 7% percent of GDP, speaks to the substantial step up that is required.”
“It is also a paradox, while there is this incredible opportunity to invest, 80% of projects do not get past the feasibility stage.”
The infrastructure deficit means that 34% of the population in Africa do not have immediate access to roads and those that do are paying twice the global average for transport costs.
While there is an “incredible” amount of work that needs to be done, there are also opportunities for solutions.
“In the words of strategy, you need to get from the business of where the rubber hits the sky to the rubber hits the road. So how do we turn all of this conversation, ideas and talk about opportunity into a business reality?”