Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, last week, outlined a new infrastructure dream for Africa at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa. He noted—during the release of a report on the WEF’s 3-year Africa Strategic Infrastructure initiative—that a combination of investment in infrastructure and education will make Africa one of the leading economies of the world in the near future.
However, before the continent begins to dream of rubbing shoulders with the developed world, it needs to address certain pressing issues. Here are some of those issues Gordon Brown thinks Africa needs to quickly address:
Greater Investment: Infrastructure itself might sound like a technical or a boring word, admits the ex Prime Minister, but it is the “economic and social fabric” that will support the improvement of the quality of lives in Africa. Gordon, who also chairs the Global Strategic Infrastructure Initiative of the WEF, therefore revealed that the continent will need to spend $1.5 trillion on infrastructure in the next 15 years.
“If Africa could solve its infrastructure problem and secure the investment that is necessary, the growth rate of Africa could approach that of China and India. That is the prize that is available to Africa if we can deliver better infrastructure,” he added.
Bankable projects: In the report, Gordon Brown, also revealed the challenges experienced in preparing African infrastructure programmes to attract private investment. According to the report, private-sector interest in financing bankable projects is estimated at over $60 trillion globally but the continent lacks the necessary preparation resources to advance its projects to a bankable stage. The result has been limited investment opportunities due to the unavailability of well-prepared projects.
Increased private participation: he also canvassed for greater private sector participation in the early stages of project preparation before such projects, adding that a modest increase in the pipeline of well-prepared projects would significantly impact local economies, improve the welfare of communities and boost the investment opportunities available to the market.
Political will: Prime Minister Brown also lauded the Central Corridor Presidential Round Table Investor Forum held in Dar es Salaam earlier in the year and praised South African President Zuma for his commitment to infrastructure development. “The lessons that we’re learning is that there is political will in Africa to move and solve the infrastructure gap, there is co-ordination taking place amongst the leaders of Africa, particularly with the support this morning and over the last three years of President [Jacob] Zuma, who has a personal interest in moving infrastructure development forward,” he said.
By Emmanuel Iruobe