Reducing Africa’s Infrastructure Deficits
Over the years Africa has developed quite rapidly and, with numerous opportunities for investments, the continent has become a desired hub for doing business. Backed by major infrastructure works and technological advancement, Africa now stands as a beacon of hope and prosperity in light of the continent rising above incredible odds. In this regard, the world continues to see the continent for its numerous opportunities but its prospects are hindered by insufficient infrastructure.
Paramount among the infrastructural setbacks on the continent include the transportation sector, the energy supply chain, accessible and potable drinking water, telecommunications, and accommodations. The energy sector for instance continues to be one of Africa’s largest infrastructure challenges with over 30 countries experiencing consistent power shortages with just over a third of Africa’s population having access to electricity. This situation continues to affect productivity and general outputs of most industries on the continent.
Roads constitute 90% of African urban transportation. However, the nature of the roads itself might stand in contrast to developed infrastructure in that they are characterised by the widespread use of public and non-motorised modes and have congested arterials. Additionally, travel normally requires long travel times and distances.
Research and analysis conducted by the World Bank, shows that about USD 93 billion is needed yearly to be able to fund Africa’s infrastructural needs for the next ten years. However, given the substantial amount needed, governments, individuals and corporate bodies need to be innovative and critical in the search for sustainable approaches to infrastructure development as well as ways to finance them.
In order to fully maximize the full potential in Africa, it is essential to reduce the cost of doing business across national and ethnic borders. This means major investments in transport infrastructure including roads, ports, internal container depots, inland waterways and railways need to be established and energy capacity must be consistent. The tread being made by governments, individuals and corporate bodies in transforming Africa to a modern and growth-induced economy will be a positive movement for global prosperity.
Planned infrastructure plays an essential role in determining the overall productivity and development of a country’s economy. Indeed, infrastructure is the foundation upon which citizens can achieve a high standard of living.
For the continent to achieve a heightened realization of ensuring effective trade among countries and for it to run well, proper infrastructure should be in place, including but not limited to transportation systems and the provision of other basic amenities such as water, reliable electricity and proper sanitation.
I argue, therefore, that African economies can begin the process of deep integration if infrastructure networks are designed in such a way as to link production centers and distribution hubs across the continent. Indeed, this would emulate, under Africa’s own conditions, the networks of trade utilized by developed economies.
The development of infrastructure on the continent would also contribute in promoting inclusive and sustainable growth, especially rural areas. Infrastructure, especially feeder roads that link rural communities to cities will enable individuals, households, communities, and small businesses to embark on income-generating activities especially in the relatively large and important agricultural sector.
With effective infrastructure, African companies would achieve a rise in productivity of up to 40%. It is therefore essential that African entities embark on strategic partnerships with external bodies to help raise capital, accelerate infrastructure project delivery, reduce operational costs and improve maintenance. With the right infrastructural needs, Africa would be able to effectively tap into regional markets, and benefit from globalization through investment and trade.