A major factor hindering infrastructure implementation and delivery is the absence of good governance, according to the 130 delegates from 27 countries who came together for the first Regional Roundtable on Infrastructure Governance in Cape Town in November.
There’s no denying infrastructure is crucial to Africa’s growth prospects. Nor can one ignore the ever-growing need for infrastructure on the continent—in Sub-Saharan Africa, only 35% of the population has access to electricity, and 23% still lack access to safe water and sanitation. Despite an estimated shortfall of nearly $100 billion in infrastructure investment in Africa, lack of financing is not the biggest problem.
The landmark Roundtable brought together representatives from African governments, the global private sector, multilateral and international organizations, civil society organizations and other development partners, for a discussion on the challenges and practical solutions to the governance impeding successful infrastructure delivery in Africa.
Information and Communication Technologies
Recent conversations I have had about the value of regulation and private participation in telecoms has prompted me to do some quick calculations using the Caribbean as a test case. The results? Market reforms have had significant impacts in the region.
Reforms in the Caribbean began in the late 1980s although start times vary greatly across the region. Drives varied, including prompting by the World Bank Group, by the United States, and by potential private investors. Sometimes leading countries in the region served as examples for others to follow.
The largest Public-Private Partnership deal in Central America was recently highlighted at one of the world’s most prestigious universities during the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) 9th Annual Sustainability Summit. Under this year’s theme, Funding the Future, the event brought together more than 300 participants from students, startup CEOs, academia, think tanks and financial investors.
One of my favorite songs when I was growing up was John Lennon’s “Imagine.” A few months ago, UNICEF created a project around it to highlight the plight of millions of refugee children. As 2016 drew to a close, I couldn’t help but imagine a world with high-quality, affordable, sustainable, well-maintained infrastructure services for everyone.
I’m not sure a video of infrastructure projects set to “Imagine” would fire people up as much as the UNICEF video does. But there is value in reflecting on what we have accomplished in 2016, and what we might hope for and imagine in 2017, to bring this vision closer to reality for millions of people.
- Public Private Partnerships
- Public private partnership
- Labor and Social Protection
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Climate Change
- Financial Sector
- Global Economy
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Law and Regulation
- Private Sector Development
- Public Sector and Governance
- Urban Development
- The World Region
Photo Credit: United Nations
Development of infrastructure services is often a central feature for rebuilding fragile and conflict affected states (FCSs). One of the reasons is that infrastructure is often devastated by conflict, making provision of water, power, communications and transportation priorities for recovery efforts. Another reason is that equitable distribution of services may be an important feature of a peace agreement and any appearance of unfairness could spark renewed unrest. Whatever the motivation, without proper planning for governance, the development can falter.
There are two governance challenges with infrastructure in FCSs. One is that the urgency to provide service sometimes overshadows developing systems that can easily transition from something quickly built to infrastructure with sound governance that grows and matures as the country progresses. Another challenge is establishing regulations that encourage investment by protecting property rights. And given the diversity of FCSs situations, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
How can development professionals advance good infrastructure governance amongst the turbulence and urgency of infrastructure recovery in FCSs? PPIAF and the Public Utility Research Center (PURC) at the University of Florida recently launched a web portal to assist in this work.
Most African countries have realized the importance of private investment and are experimenting with private sector partnerships for the construction, maintenance, and/or operation of capital intensive projects. Where they have succeeded, as with Ghana’s e-government public-private partnership (PPP), results benefit the entire society.
In April 2010, the Government of Ghana signed a public-private partnership (PPP) contract to reengineer business registration processes, deploy state-of-the-art application software and hardware, and employ best-in-class solutions for the Ghana Revenue Authority and the Registrar General’s Office. This was part of a broader program to achieve greater efficiency, transparency, and effectiveness in the delivery of selected government services using information and communications technology (ICT).