By Racheal Ishaya
By many accounts, Africa is still being referred to as the untapped gold mine; many believe that if the potential of the continent were harnessed, there abound great possibilities.
However, the development of the region is bedeviled by poor infrastructure which is the direct consequence of poor funding and mismanagement of the available ones.
The lack of infrastructure keeps inhibiting the region as many global players who want to deal with and in Africa are set back by the lack of access.
Infrastructures like transportation, power and communication facilitates: social Infrastructure including water supply, sanitation, education and health which have direct impact on the quality of life are still largely lacking in Africa.
According to a research by the World Bank, Africa’s largest infrastructure deficits are in power and road.
According to its research, the 48 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, with a combined population of 800 million generates roughly the same amount of power as Spain, with a population of 45 million.
The report also showed that only one-third of Africans living in rural areas are within two kilometers of an all-season road, compared with two-thirds of the population in other developing regions.
According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the cost of addressing Africa’s Infrastructure deficit is estimated to be approximately 93 billion dollars every year until 2020.
ECA’s findings showed that there remains a large funding gap as African governments currently had a combined average spending of 45 billion dollars a year on infrastructure.
This means that governments have to look at alternative financing solutions that are economically feasible.
Speaking at the first regional forum on Quality Infrastructure of ECOWAS held recently in Dakar, Senegal, Mr Dimitri Sanga, the Director, ECA West African office, said to achieve this, Africa must focus on mobilising its domestic resources and minimise Illicit Financial Flows.
He said that with the political will, West Africa could finance quality Infrastructure from internal taxes, mining royalties, bank income and steady rise of migrant remittances among others.
He called on the governments to the work together in curbing Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) which he said had led to the loss of over 50 billion dollars revenue per year.
“In the last 50 years, Africa has lost over one trillion dollars because of IFFs. If not for IFFs, Africa’s capital stock would have risen by more than 60 per cent and GDP per capita, by 15 per cent.
“50 billion of IFF would be enough to cover the continent’s infrastructure needs, therefore reducing IFFS would provide sufficient resources for quality Infrastructure in the region,” he said.
Sanga said that if West African governments wants to achieve structural transformation, it must as a matter of policy redeploy resources from traditional agriculture to agro-industry among others.
He said that this would create jobs, additional income, price stability, diversification of local technological and industrial capacities.
Sanga commended the Common Industrial Policy of the Economic Commission for West Africa (ECOWAS), which he said would indeed contribute to the growth and stability of West African economies.
The Common Industrial Policy of the ECOWAS seeks to increase the transformation of local raw materials from 15 per cent to 30 per cent, industrial sector contribution to regional GDP from 6 to 20 per cent you 2030.
The Policy also wishes to increase intra-community trade in West Africa from 12 per cent to 40 per cent by 2030 and also increase volume of exports of industrial products from the region to the world market from 0.1 to 1 per cent by 2030.
Analysts believe that effectively addressing Africa’s infrastructure gap would help strengthen the transport, power, health, education, water and sewage sectors, improve quality of access for all and significantly increase economic capacity.
It will also give countries wider access to their large natural resource deposits, enabling more efficient exports.