The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is working with African countries to increase investment in infrastructure and agriculture on the continent. Ms. Habiba Ben Barka indicated that the ECA was working to strengthen the private sector business environment in Africa. The focus is on energy and infrastructure development. She pointed out that the ECA is increasing the use of public-private partnerships (PPPs) to scaling up investment in infrastructure. This is especially in the context of COVID-19.
The Economic Affairs Officer with the Private Sector Development and Finance Division was speaking at ECA’s first-quarter Accountability and Programme Performance Review Meeting (APPRM).
Meanwhile, Ms. Ben Barka indicated that to achieve this specific outcome, the ECA has identified three key strategic activities. This includes supporting several member-states to implement infrastructure planning tools. It is also focusing on energy and transport. It will apply its methodologies for increasing private sector participation in road safety.
Also, it brings more countries to adopt policies that will attract more private sector investment. These policies will increase the use of PPP frameworks and other means for scaling up infrastructure investment. The last one is to foster more engagements between actors in the aviation industry and financial institutions. This will be within the context of COVID-19 economic recovery on the continent.
Ms. Ben Barka said that among other things, the ECA has developed a methodology for assisting the energy regulatory environment in three African countries. Meanwhile, she revealed that the ECA will soon launch the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) policy brief. According to her, the PIDA assesses the progress that African countries have made in achieving the SDG7 target. This involves ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.
Sub-programs that support the PIDA initiative
The sub-program contributed to the identification of a pipeline of 64 projects that support the PIDA initiative. All the African Heads of State and government in February 2021 endorsed all these projects.
“Each region will have 10 projects on energy, transport, cross-boundary water, and ICT. The remaining projects would target the needs that will be requested for under the presidential infrastructure initiative and also for small island development states”.
Furthermore, Ms. Ben Barka indicated that one of the outputs delivered by her section was to mobilize capital from institutional investors in Africa and across the world. This includes pension and sovereign wealth funds to finance the continent’s infrastructure development and green economy needs.
Also, she noted that going forward, the ECA will strengthen its partnership with institutional investors and partners to support the development of green financing markets. The partnerships will also aid the establishment of a Pan African Green Infrastructure Investment Bank (AGIIB).
Ms. Barka added that there are ongoing efforts to strengthen the capacity of member states to deepen financial markets and mobilize long-term financial instruments.
Moreover, she stated that the sub-program was working to identify barriers to key energy infrastructure on the continent. It will also identify the number of countries that will be able to align land policy reforms with energy sector infrastructure investment in Africa.