Weak infrastructure remains major constraint to growth and achieving the MDGs. Need to improve public-private partnerships and implement PIDA Priority Plan.
Africa: African governments have emphasised the importance of infrastructure and have made broadly similar commitments spanning four subsectors – energy, transport, water and ICT – to strengthen national planning frameworks, reform and harmonise the regulatory environment, mobilise increased private and public resources and develop regional and continental programmes. In January 2012, African leaders agreed to prioritise the programmes contained in the Priority Action Plan (PAP) of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) and to promote regional projects (see Box 3). Targets include: (a) 35% of the population have access to electricity by 2020; (b) the proportion of people living beyond 2 km from an all-season road halved by 2015; (c) reducing the proportion of people without access to safe water and sanitation reduced by 75% by 2015, and (d) all African capitals and major cities’ information networks interconnected by 2012.
Development partners: Development partners have undertaken to increase financial support and help mobilise private sector participation (see also Topic 4). They have made specific commitments to promote clean energy and energy efficiency. The Seoul Multi-Year Action Plan, reiterated in 2011 in Cannes, committed the G20 to overcome obstacles to investment, develop project pipelines, improve capacity and facilitate increased finance The G-20 has called on the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) to prioritise implementation of the 5 projects in Africa identified by the High Level Panel on Infrastructure (HLP). The UN General Assembly declared 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.
What has been done to deliver on these commitments?
National planning: most countries lack planning frameworks or long-term strategies, though the situation is significantly better for road transport and ICT. There are improvements in energy and in water and sanitation under the leadership of the African Ministers’ Council on Water.
Development partners have significantly increased support for infrastructure, including through the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA). Cumulative funding commitments from all sources rose in 2010 to US$56 billion with ICA members, China and the private sector contributing 52%, 16% and 25% respectively. Disbursements by ICA members are also growing, amounting to US$9.7 billion in 2010, versus US$9.4 in 2009. Only 8% of total commitments, however, were directed to support soft infrastructure (policy and administrative management, education and training, and research).
G-20 members are also supporting a number of MDB HLP recommendations, including the need to: (a) develop local and public-private capacities to improve supply and quality of infrastructure projects; (b) increase the quality of information available to investors; and (c) contribute to improve the access to funding.
What results have been achieved?
Despite increased investment, progress has been slow (apart from ICT), and weak infrastructure remains a major constraint to growth and to achieving the MDGs. On several basic infrastructure indicators African countries trail their developing country peers, with the gap particularly noticeable in the density of paved roads, power generation capacity and coverage of the fund and lines. Access to energy, transport, water and ICT in rural areas is even lower.
Energy: In North Africa access to electricity is almost universal; in sub-Saharan Africa only 31% of the population had access in 2010, the lowest level in the world. The small-scale nature of most national power systems and extensive reliance on expensive oil-based generation makes the average cost of generating power in Africa exceptionally high (3.5 times that of South Asia). Thirty countries in sub-Saharan Africa have experienced energy crises in recent years.
What are the future priority actions?
• Move rapidly to implement PIDA Priority Action Plan (PAP);