Washington, 22 October 2019 - Mr. Alain Ebobissé, CEO of Africa50, the pan-African infrastructure investment platform, called for faster decision-making and quicker deployment of capital into the development of Africa’s infrastructure.
Speaking on Thursday, at the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings, in a panel themed “The Infrastructure Revolution: Integration, Investment and Innovation”, Mr. Ebobissé urged public and private stakeholders, including development finance institutions, to increase their focus on early stage funding for project preparation/development and to bring projects to financial close and commercial operations as quickly as possible. He said that the opportunity cost of delayed project implementation was too high, “When projects are delayed in the power sector for example, people turn to alternative sources of energy which are more costly and can have a detrimental impact on a country’s economy and the environment”, he said.
Mr. Ebobissé added that accelerating the delivery of infrastructure – which is Africa50’s mandate – would create a virtuous circle: “investors get a fair return, citizens get services, and governments can highlight their success to attract additional investments”.
He also explained that due to limited government resources, development finance institutions and the private sector must play a major role in helping to bridge Africa’s infrastructure funding gap, estimated up to USD108 billion. The entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement accentuates even further the need to reduce this gap, in order to provide the roads, railways, ports, improved energy access and telecommunications to connect countries to each other and to the world economy, facilitating exports, trade in services and e-commerce.
He reiterated Africa50’s readiness to support the development of private and PPP infrastructure projects including regional projects, through a collaborative approach, with African governments working alongside the private sector, development finance institutions, and other financiers to accelerate the delivery of projects, while mitigating risks and seeking a reasonable return on investment.
Earlier, during the panel, Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Infrastructure, further stressed the need to shift the emphasis from project financing – where most financiers and investors tend to focus – to project preparation, which is currently under-financed; and from traditional infrastructure projects to innovative ones aimed at building future sectors and leveraging technology.
Also speaking, the Minister of Finance of Paraguay, Benigno Lopez, emphasized the need to build capacity within government entities, to strengthen officers’ skills in managing complex public-private projects deals, negotiating contracts and conducting adequate policy reforms to attract investments. He explained that his country’s efforts in that regard enabled Paraguay to recently close its first public-private infrastructure project.
Later during the panel, European Investment Bank Vice-President, Ambroise Fayolle, stressed the important role public institutions play in creating the market to help countries attract private investment. Lucie Heintz, Partner, Actis, spoke about the need to create new models to accelerate investments into renewable energy projects, with a focus on storage, transmission, distribution, and smart grids infrastructure, which are key to provide reliable energy access to under-served populations.
The panel was part of a series of public discussions with political, social and business leaders lined up for the 2019 International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group Annual Meetings and side event which was taking place in Washington from 14 to 20 October. This specific panel brought panelists to reflect on the priorities for bridging the infrastructure gap, including greater accessibility, more and better data, innovative financing vehicles, and expanded partnerships.
Fleur Tchibota, Head of Communications. Tel: +212666171099. email: firstname.lastname@example.org