The private sector has a critical role to play in reducing Africa’s infrastructure deficit which is militating against its economic growth, the NEPAD Agency said today. It was for this reason that the African Union endorsed the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) to channel resources to deal with the deficit, the Agency said at the opening of an annual Infrastructure Africa Business Forum in Johannesburg.
“With support from the private sector, PIDA is expected to play a critical role” in addressing the continent’s infrastructure problems, said Mr Adama Deen, head of Infrastructure Programmes and Projects at the NEAPAD Agency, who represented Chief Executive Officer Dr Ibrahim Mayaki at the forum. “Infrastructure is essential for integrating regions, realising socio-economic potential and fast-tracking development in Africa,” he said.
PIDA's main goal is to accelerate the delivery of current and future regional and continental infrastructure projects in transport, energy, information and information communications and technology, and trans-boundary waterways. PIDA was approved by African heads of state and governments at their January 2012 summit in Addis Ababa.
In a presentation, Mr Ralph Olaye, Manager, NEPAD Division at the African Development Bank, said the continent would require investment of about $360 billion in infrastructure in order to be well connected to the rest of the world by 2040. In most African countries, infrastructure remains as a major constraint to doing business and if African governments and the private sector were to invest adequately in infrastructure, the continent would be adding 2 per cent to its economic growth per year, Mr Olaye said.
PIDA, which is a joint initiative by the AU, NEPAD and the AfDB, aims to develop a web of 37,200 km of highways, 30,200 km of railways and 16,500 km of interconnected power lines by 2040, said Mr Olaye. It also plans to add 54,150 MW of hydroelectric power generation capacity and an extra 1.3-billion tons capacity at the ports.
South Africa’s Energy Minister, Dipuo Peters, said no infrastructure programme could be successful if it is not linked to continental development objectives. PIDA therefore remains key for the Southern African region and the entire Africa to promote socio-economic development, she said.
One of the outcomes of the two-day conference is to explore how to maximise economic growth in partnership with the private sector through initiatives such as PIDA. It will also explore new trading opportunities and business partnerships across the continent. The annual forum is a collaboration between the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency and the NEPAD Business Foundation.