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COMMENT: Africa’s infrastructure delivery

In the Philippines, a country the size of Côte d’Ivoire with a population of over 96 million inhabitants, solar technologies have been in use for several years in remote areas. Today, the electrification rate in the country stands at 87.5% with urban electrification rate at 94% and rural at 73% (source World Bank).

We need to learn from the Philippines to fast-track Africa’s transformation by improving access to energy.

PIDA Week 2016 offered a platform for International financiers, policy experts, the private sector, PIDA project owners to exchange views and share experience with the attending delegation from Peru. The Latin American country has made big strides in urban transportation with investment of US$8.82bn in road, rail, port, and airport infrastructure since 2011. For Ernst & Young, the investment will help reduce the amount of time wasted in transit estimated at 4bn/y man-hours. The firm further indicates that local investors have lined up at least US$40.1bn in infrastructure, transport and energy investment projects for 2016-2017. Peru has US$14.5 billion pending in PPP infrastructure investments, equivalent to 8% of GDP. These key achievements have prompted the AU, NEPAD, and AfDB to renew their call for increased private sector participation in PIDA projects.

PIDA Week 2016 ended on a positive consensus to fast-track infrastructure project delivery in Africa. Experts agree that there is a direct correlation between infrastructure and GDP growth. In general, around 6.5 per cent is contributed by infrastructure services in low income countries.

Africa’s youth unemployment should not be seen as “ticking time bomb” but rather a chance for our creative youth to embrace new opportunities offered in infrastructure development. There are no quick fixes to job creation to achieve shared growth for future generations. As Maya Angelou once said: “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” Failure is just not an option.

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Moono Mupotola is the Director of the NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department at the African Development Bank (AfDB)

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