In the coming decades, the African continent will face great challenges in security and development. With explosive population growth on the horizon, African leaders and their international partners have placed continental connectivity and infrastructure development high on their political and economic agendas.
“Infrastructure development cuts across various other development issues, such as health, schooling, security, manufacturing, the reduction of spatial inequality, and so on,” noted Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist and Vice President of the African Development Bank (2010-2015), at a Friends of Europe’s Policy Insight.
The financing needs of such development are enormous, however, with the latest African Development Bank estimates suggesting that upwards of €200bn will be needed to update Africa’s infrastructure and keep up the continent’s rather resilient economic performance, noted Shada Islam, Director for Europe & Geopolitics at Friends of Europe.
“There is a financing gap of €100bn to meet Africa’s infrastructure needs,” she added. “This money needs to be found in the next ten or twenty years.”
Through a combination of official development assistance, foreign direct investment, and private-public partnerships, the money needed to close the financing gap can be made available. However, the greater issue is coordination between the different government and financing agencies.
“In every African country, there are various projects underway but there is not enough coordination between financing agencies,” noted Francesca Di Mauro, Head of Unit for Central Africa at the European Commission Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development. “This coordination needs to come from the different ministries involved.”
Hiroyuki Hino, Visiting Professor at the University of Cape Town Poverty and Inequality Initiative, drawing on the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry’s post-war experience in reconstruction, stressed the value of partnerships in the public sector.
“Without a long-term perspective, it is difficult for the private sector to invest and grow. Asking the private sector to assume all the risk in developing any major project or industry is difficult and expensive. There is a proper role for public sector stakeholders to reduce this risk and make it easier to adopt long-term perspectives,” he said.
The willingness of national governments in Africa and their international partners to achieve infrastructure projects for local populations is the most important element of success, noted Alaa Alessa, Managing Director of Endeavor Energy. “We’ve seen that projects that are initiated by the government and supported by the private sector as facilitators are the most successful,” she said. “Getting everyone around the same table means stakeholder management and making sure all parties work together to achieve a project.”
The Policy Insight was followed by a dinner debate in which the discussion shifted to peace and security, which underpin the debate on development in Africa. Participants agreed that common values that Japan and the EU share – human dignity, rights, and security – allow for opportunities to focus more on governance issues.
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- Event page
- Event report
- Engineering the security-development nexus, the Japanese way, by Atsushi Hanatani, Advisor to the Director General, Infrastructure and Peacebuilding Department, JICA
- African Security Challenges: A Case for Increased Japan–Europe Cooperation, by Akira W. Jingushi, Research Fellow at the National Institute for Defense Studies, Japan
- Hiroshi Hiraoka on the opportunities of African agriculture