Constructing a bright future for Africa

Zanzibar's one power cable from the mainland of Tanzania powering most of the island
Infrastructure and efficient construction may not be the first thing that comes to mind for development campaigners. However, well-built schools, hospitals and roads can give a country the backbone they need for economic growth and poverty alleviation. The scale of Africa’s infrastructure needs make this a vital sector to get right.

At the last BRICS group meeting, South African President Zuma estimated that over the next 10 years the continent will need $480 billion for infrastructure development.

There are two initiatives that can help make sure investment in infrastructure has the best possible developmental impact. The first is the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative, or CoST, which seeks to bring together the private sector, government officials, civil society and external backers for the purposes of greater accountability in the sector. It aims to reduce the estimated 10 to 30 percent of construction project value that is lost through “leakage,” which can be caused by mismanagement, inefficiency or corruption. CoST is supported by the World Bank and the UK’s Department for International Development, and has recently completed its pilot phase in seven countries.

The second is the High Level Panel on Infrastructure set up by the Seoul G20. The panel is mandated to look at mobilizing finance and maximizing outputs from infrastructure – with a particular focus on the Multilateral Development Banks. The panel met yesterday in London to progress their work and is aiming to have concrete recommendations ready in time for the Cannes G20 summit in November.

ONE wishes both initiatives success in helping foster an efficient, thriving and sustainable construction sector in Africa, which will have benefits across the community.