Africa urged to promote infrastructure development for prosperity
Wednesday, 11 July 2012
At least $360 billion are needed in the African infrastructure development to realize the African Union (AU) vision of building a prosperous continent by 2040, an African Development Bank official said on Tuesday.
"Africa's gross domestic product could grow by an additional 2 percent per year, if the continent's infrastructure is at the right level," African Development Bank official Ralph Olaye told delegates at a conference on infrastructure development in Africa. "Lack of a robust infrastructure development in Africa is a continental problem, that needs an urgent solution,"Olaye said. The official pointed out that the inadequate infrastructure is affecting productivity and raising production and transaction costs in Africa, putting African countries among the least competitive in the world. He applauded the AU's Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa, which is a guiding document towards building the much-needed infrastructure in Africa, including developing 37 thousand km of highways and 30 thousand km of railways.
"Africa needs to plan and invest in infrastructure to remove some of the bottlenecks and unleash its growth potential," he said. Olaye stressed that the improved infrastructure will have huge financial implications for Africa, saying, "There should be 1.3 billion tones of port capacity added, electricity and water consumption will also massively increase as a result of the increased demand caused by the improved infrastructure".
The South African government also registered its support for development of infrastructure for the whole continent.
"The overall goal of the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa is to promote socioeconomic development and poverty reduction in Africa through improved access to integrated regional and continental infrastructure networks and services," South African Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters told delegates at the conference.
The Minister urged Africa to focus more on energy development as a driving factor for all the intended infrastructure development.
"We certainly all agree that development is not possible without energy. If all the aspects of the energy value chain are not in place and well managed, infrastructure development and job creation will not be possible on the continent," the minister said.
The minister also warned against infrastructure development based on the interest of big businesses at the expense of ordinary citizens.
"Our policies and initiatives are not meant to only provide relief to the industrial and commercial sectors that propel our economic growth, but they must also address the social imperatives that are relevant to our circumstances as a developing country," the government official said.
Adama Deen from the Nepad Planning and Coordinating Agency cautioned that lack of resources has a potential to derail the infrastructure development in Africa.
"Infrastructure development is a critical enabler and a prerequisite for industrialization and economic growth in Africa. However,the resource mobilization remains critical to the success of the development projects,"he said.
Stanley Subramoney from the Nepad Business Foundation urged Africa to find ways of attracting the investment needed to propel infrastructure development.
"Business and government leadership have to work together in pursuing progressive development.The private sector's role is to provide technical expertise, resources and experience to support the implementation of this grand infrastructure plan," Subramoney said.