Africa is set to become the next mega-infrastructure giant of the world. But many challenges still hinder its development, despite being rich in resources and home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies.
A lack of quality roadways, marine ports and railways have been the thorn in Africa’s side – stemming the growth from a developing to a developed continent. But all that’s changing. Economic juggernauts like China and India are pumping billions of dollars into Africa to help transform the continent’s fortunes while staking a claim in the world’s next high-growth territory.
Infrastructure development is a key pillar of the China-Africa relationship. The Asian powerhouse has become the single largest trade partner for many African countries (Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, Mozambique and many more). It has also become the major source of financial support for various development and infrastructure projects in Africa.
But progress has been a tad slow. Three years ago, the African Development Bank (ADB) and the Africa Foundation launched a fundraising initiative for Africa 50 – a project aimed at speeding up infrastructure ventures on the continent.
Alassande Ba, Director at ADB and acting CEO of Africa 50, remains positive about Africa’s progress but adds that its people must utilise the opportunities to further sustain growth on the continent.
Currently, renewable energy is a hot commodity in Africa, but Ba says that the continent is not generating enough of it. “Only now, people are recognising the need for renewable energy to help sustain Africa’s development. This is why ADB has increased its intervention for energy.”
ADB have not only created new managerial roles for renewable energy on the ADB board, it’ll also pump in more resources, double up on partnerships and include specific activities for renewable energy in Africa over the next few years.
Ba says that ADB is working closely with the African construction and infrastructure sector for several reasons. One is to learn how to get more private equity in Africa, especially for infrastructure. “Infrastructure projects can generate lots of business for the insurance industry. We also believe that we need to make use of more risk management products, which the insurance industry can provide.”
While Africa has its challenges, Ba believes that it presents new opportunities to improve the living conditions of the African people. “The biggest challenges are to make sure public utilities are more bankable and to improve the quality of governance on the continent.”
He says that the ADB will try to improve advisory services to make sure African countries get the right framework, tariffs and operating contacts.
Top 5 mega-infrastructure projects in Africa
West African Rail Network
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
The Mombasa-Nairobi SGR
Konza Techno City
Modderfontein New City Project
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