Africa needs to invest $93bn yearly to arrest infrastructure backlogs

credit and thanks: Africa needs to invest $93bn yearly to arrest infrastructure backlogs.

The United Nations Economic Com-mission for Africa (ECA) says the continent needs $93-billion a year over the next decade to develop basic infrastructure in a bid to eliminate the problems of frequent electricity blackouts, erratic water supply, poor road infrastructure and slow information and communications technology infrastructure development.

ECA director for Southern Africa Jennifer Kargbo says that, currently, Africa spends $45-billion a year on infrastructure development, which, she argues, is far from enough.

“Africa’s largest deficit is in the power sector. The 48 sub-Saharan African countries generate roughly the same amount of power as Spain, and [the region’s] power consumption is only a tenth of the consumption of the developed world,” says Kargbo.

She says that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region’s water resources are underused because the region has inadequate water storage and irrigation infrastructure, which threatens the achievement of water security.

“There is need to put in place more infrastructure to distribute water for agricultural use in the region. For example, Zambia is the source of 40% of water resources in the SADC region but has only 100 000 ha under irrigation.”

Dr McFellow Ngwira, principal secretary 
at Malawi’s Ministry of Transport and Public Infrastructure, says that the SADC region’s fast economic growth rate has not been matched by investment in power generation, adding that the region may experience serious water and energy 
shortages if infrastructure investment is not 
accelerated.

He urges SADC countries to cooper-
ate on infrastructure development projects.

“In Malawi, we are currently collaborating with our neighbours to implement the Shire–Zambezi waterway project, the aim of which is to open up new outlets to the sea for Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia through integration of infrastructure in the region,” says Ngwira.

Malawi’s Constraints
Malawi, the economy of which is one of the fast-
est growing in the SADC region, is currently 
experiencing serious energy and water supply 
shortages and is courting its cooperating partners to finance a number of projects in the two sectors.

Meanwhile, US government development aid agency the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has approved a $14,8-million grant, which will enable Malawi to carry out feasibility studies into an electricity project that the MCC is expected to finance at a total cost of $300-million.

MCC Malawi energy specialist Overtone Mandalasi says the project will, besides other things, involve the rehabilitation of the Nkula A and B power stations, on the Shire river, which are among Malawi’s major power stations, with a generation capacity of 124 MW.

“Under the rehabilitation project, there is also a component of improving weed and silt management at all hydropower plants and the improvement of natural resource management in selected catchment areas of the Shire river to minimise siltation at the downstream power plants,” says Mandalasi.

The project, which will also involve the 
rehabilitation of the electricity distribution network across Malawi, will be implemented over a five-year period from 2011.

Meanwhile, in a recent investment climate survey report, the World Bank included erratic 
power supply among the major obstacles to doing business in Malawi.

The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malalwi has an installed generation capacity 
of 282,5 MW, which is way short of the current national power demand of 344 MW which, 
according to Malawi’s Ministry of Develop-ment Planning and Cooperation projects, will reach 571 MW by 2015.

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu

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