November 23, 2017

Why Africa Needs Modern and Sustainable Infrastructure

By Abdi Ali
Published October 15, 2017

Linus Mofor, a Senior Environmental Affairs Officer in the Africa Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, says Africa needs at least US$100 Billion annually to address the deficit in her infrastructure.To transform its economies and attain development aspirations, Africa needs modern and resilient energy, water and transport infrastructure.

Linus Mofor, a Senior Environmental Affairs Officer in the Africa Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, says Africa needs at least US$100 Billion annually to address the deficit in her infrastructure.

“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,” says Dr Mofor in a presentation on alternative sources for resilient-infrastructure investment and climate finance.

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Touching on African Union’s Agenda 2063 that emphasises ‘world-class integrative infrastructure that criss-crosses the continent’ as a key requirement for attaining the new African renaissance, Mofor says, “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.”

He says 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.

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

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The challenge, he says, is how to use limited public resources to close such a huge gap and do so fast enough to meet increasing demand while ensuring 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,” says 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.”

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Linus Mofor of UNECA argues that the limited existing infrastructure in Africa is already being severely impacted by extreme events associated with climate change. Dr Linus Mofor  argues that the limited existing infrastructure in Africa is already being severely impacted by extreme events associated with climate change.

A study published by the World Bank and UNECA in 2015 on Enhancing the Climate Resilience of Africa’s Infrastructure (ECRAI) shows 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% and foregone revenues in the range of 15%-130% of the baseline value.

“The results of the ECRAI study call 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,” says Mofor.

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