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Urgent action needed to address infrastructure deficit in Africa, says ECA’s Mofor

Africa needs modern and sustainable infrastructure if the continent is to transform its economies and attain development aspirations as framed in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Africa’s Agenda 2063, says Linus Mofor of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

In a presentation on alternative sources for resilient infrastructure investment and climate finance, Mr. Mofor, a Senior Environmental Affairs Officer in the Africa Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), said infrastructure is essential to the continent’s economic development, adding an estimated US$ 100 billion is needed annually to address the infrastructure deficit in Africa.

The presentation was prepared for the just-ended U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Standing Committee on Finance (SCF) 2017 Forum that was held in Rabat, Morocco.

“For us climate resilient infrastructure is one that performs well in both today’s and tomorrow’s climate. As such integrating climate resilience in infrastructure development represents a dividend but one that comes with an upfront incremental cost which is recovered over the life of the project,” said Mr. Mofor, adding his reflections were in the context of the Africa Climate Resilient Investment Facility (AFRI-RES).

AFRI-RES is a joint initiative of the ECA, the World Bank, the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Agenda 2063 emphasises “world-class integrative infrastructure that criss-crosses the continent” as a key requirement for attaining the new African renaissance.

“Yet, the continent still suffers from a chronic infrastructure deficit in all sectors, as well as poor quality and expensive infrastructure services compared to other parts of the world,” said Mr. Mofor.

He said the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), endorsed by the continent’s leaders in 2012, lays out an ambitious long-term plan for closing Africa’s infrastructure gap, including through major increases in hydro-electric power generation and water storage capacity.

Mr. Mofor said the infrastructure deficit in Africa presents both an opportunity and a challenge.

The challenge, he said, is how to use limited public resources to close such a huge gap and do so fast enough to meet increasing demand, and ensure that investments made today do not become stranded assets due to adverse impacts of climate change.

“The opportunity lies in adopting a new climate economy approach to meeting Africa’s development agenda, that is one in which economic growth and sustainability are seen as two sides of the same coin,” said Mr. Mofor.

“As such, Africa can take a late-comer advantage and learn from the experiences of other global regions to leapfrog and build climate resilient infrastructure.”

Mr. Mofor said the limited existing infrastructure in Africa is already being severely impacted by extreme events associated with climate change.

In 2015 the World Bank and the ECA published results of a study on Enhancing the Climate Resilience of Africa’s Infrastructure (ECRAI).

The study found that failure to integrate climate change in the planning and design of power and water infrastructure could entail losses of hydropower revenues of between 5 and 60 percent and foregone revenues in the range of 15 to 130 percent of the baseline value.

“The results of the ECRAI study called for the urgent need to support African countries and project developers in building quality infrastructure that performs in both today’s and tomorrow’s uncertain climate, hence AFRI-RES came into being,” said Mr. Mofor.

AFRI-RES aims to strengthen the capacity of African institutions and project developers to integrate climate information and services into the planning, design, and implementation of infrastructure investments to enhance their resilience to climate variability and change in selected sectors, particularly energy, water, transport and agriculture.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).