Infrastructure in Africa still a work in progress - CNBC Africa

Infrastructure in Africa still a work in progress

Special Report

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Funding and financing is only one aspect of meeting Africa's infrastructure needs. PHOTO: Getty Images

“We’re talking about regional and continental programmes [with PIDA]. The way we’re going to manage the project is different because sometimes we’re going to have many interests,” Maurice Naity-Mouamba from the African Union Commission, said at a panel discussion during the Infrastructure Africa conference on Monday.

The PIDA, which was founded in 2010, aims to speed up and promote socio-economic develop in the continent while channelling funding to meet Africa’s infrastructure deficit.

John Tambi from the NEPAD Agency, who was also a member of the panel, added that private sector involvement was crucial to the PIDA projects, but explained that the onus was still on African countries to secure funding for these major projects.

(READ MORE: Intra-Africa trade still hampered by infrastructure deficit)

“We need to have a common understanding with regard to bankability and fundability. We have to recognise that some of these projects are not going to be attractive to the private sector,” Tambi explained.

Other members of the panel included Wiseman Nkuhlu from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and Duncan Bonnet from Whitehouse & Associates.

Private sector involvement is however one part of a number of building blocks needed to fund, develop and maintain the continent’s infrastructure projects. Private sector involvement should also extend beyond the end result.

Large-scale projects such as Malawi’s Nacala Rail Corridor, which is currently being built to link Mozambique and Malawi, is one of many regional projects that is an opportunity for African countries to not only improve intra-Africa trade, according to Mtchera Chirwa from the Africa Development Bank, but also improve regional relations.

(READ MORE: Ventures key to bridging the infrastructure gap -AfDB)

“These projects physically sit in national territories. The effort is to try and get countries to include these projects in their national development priorities. That makes it easier for allocation of finances,” he said.

“Financing is the least of our worries, depending on the type of projects. The fact is that in the PIDA, there are projects at different stages of development that need project preparation funds and grants. The view is to see what other sources of finance we can look at.”