Infrastructure investment is top priority for Africa

Closing Africa’s infrastructure gap is a top priority in order to put the continent on a path for double digit growth and sustainable development, says world-renowned economist, Jeffrey Sachs.
‘There is no choice, Africa needs 10 percent per year of economic growth in the next 15 years,’ Sachs told the Third Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The only way to achieve this, according to him, was to focus on large-scale investments in trans-national infrastructure projects in power, roads, broadband, and other core regional infrastructure needs.
Thousands of delegates descended on Addis Ababa to set the new financing architecture for a new global partnership. Its outcomes will also address the issue of means of implementation, referring to the ‘how’ the goals set out in the post-2015 development agenda can be achieved.
For Africa to realise the 2030 timeframe, Sachs, urged the global community to rally around the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) agenda, as the continent’s strategy for implementing cross-border infrastructure projects. ‘We need to help support Nepad achieve its goals,’ he said.
Nepad has identified Africa’s most important infrastructure needs within the context of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), which provides the framework to implement 51 priority programmes and projects in the sectors of energy, transport, broadband and trans boundary water.
Chief executive officer of the Nepad, Ibrahim Mayaki, highlighted that Africa’s challenge was not a lack of resources, but a lack of bankable projects. ‘We need to invest in the capacity to invest.’ It is about proposing structured projects, he said. The CEO mentioned the complementary instruments that have been developed to build the necessary capacity for early-stage project preparation and the Africa50 Fund to finance the implementation of PIDA and other regional infrastructure projects. Mayaki also underscored the important role of Regional Economic Communities in providing the enabling environment for project implementation, through harmonised policies and regulatory frameworks.
Speaking on the issue of how to crowd in investment, Sachs encouraged African economies to forge partnerships with East Asia, tap into capital markets and strengthen continental bodies such as the Nepad and the African Development Bank.
Sachs noted that financial markets have ‘failed to translate pools of savings into productive investment.’ There was need to better match these large-scale resources with financing priorities of developing countries. ‘The world has the resources with which to do this. Allocating more of these resources to inclusive development would be good for the global economy,’ he said.
Former World Bank economist and now professor at Columbia University, Jospeh Stiglitz added that the best way for Africa to achieve its infrastructure goals was to tap into a Global Infrastructure Investment Platform (GIIP), Stiglitz said. The objective of GIIP was to put forward an ambitious proposal that would allow long-term investors to ramp up their infrastructure asset holdings, with an allocation target of up to 10 percent of assets under management over a 15 year horizon.

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