10 July 2013 – Deficient infrastructure in Africa is estimated to suppress growth by as much as 2% a year. Compared with other parts of the developing world, Africa’s road access rate is only 34% versus 50% elsewhere and transport costs are higher by up to 100%. Only about 30% of the population has access to electricity, compared with 70–90% in other regions of the world. The Internet penetration rate is only about 6%, compared with an average of 40% elsewhere in the developing world.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) is a development financing institution which has been mandated to promote regional integration amongst African countries to enable them improve their competitiveness and foster sustainable development. While this challenge is a significant one, the potential rewards for the continent’s people are almost immeasurable.
In conjunction with its partners, namely, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) and the eight regional economic communities involved in the programme, the AfDB conducted a consultative study called the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA). PIDA’s core objective is to ensure that regional projects and programmes can address the infrastructural challenge that continues to undermine Africa’s competitiveness in the global market. It also presents a framework for building the much needed infrastructure necessary for energy, ICT, integrated transport and trans-boundary water networks to boost trade, stimulate growth and inject opportunities for employment.
PIDA was approved by the African heads of state and government at their summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January 2012 – positioning it as the highest infrastructure priority for Africa. PIDA is set to transform Africa with projects such as the Southern African Hub port and railway programme, and the West African Hub port and railway programme, providing ‘Transport Superhighways’ that will integrate transport, ICT and trade facilitation interventions such as one-stop border posts. This will make access for international trade for land-locked countries quicker and cheaper, enhancing competitiveness while supporting regional integration and increased intra-regional trade.
As part of this programme, a set of 51 priority infrastructure projects and programmes have been identified as part of a Priority Action Plan to be implemented by 2020 at an investment cost of US$68 billion, offering major investment opportunities for African as well as foreign investors. Initial project profiles for each of these have been prepared, however, these profiles lack critical detail to move the projects to preparation and consequently, to bankability and financing. In a prestigious award that is vast in its scope, the AfDB has appointed engineering, management and specialist technical services group Aurecon to update the PIDA Priority Action Plan through the preparation of project summaries for these 51 projects and programmes, and the approximately 260 sub-projects which support them.
“In essence, Aurecon’s overall objective is to use a consultative partnership process to close the data and information gap related to the implementation of the PIDA Priority Action Plan by developing comprehensive and detailed repackaged PIDA Priority Action Plan projects briefs, highlighting the context, objectives, outcomes and impacts, funding mechanism, readiness, partners, strategic function of infrastructure, benefits, risks, means of implementation, opportunities and ways of engagement for partners. Aurecon will also identify key enabling legal, policy and regulatory measures required for accelerating implementation, as well as the capacity gaps and required interventions,” explains Aurecon project leader, James Scheepers.