Africa has the world’s highest population growth, and a number of its countries are experiencing high rates of economic growth. Yet, the continent has the lowest growth in infrastructure stock. Its unmet infrastructure need is estimated at nearly $3 trillion by 2040, a figure that nearly doubles when the SDG targets, climate change and resilient-cities development are taken into account. Meeting the continent’s future infrastructure requirements and sustaining its current economic growth are among the greatest challenges for the public and private sectors in the next two decades. While African governments continue to spend heavily on infrastructure, the scale of the gap in infrastructure investment requires massive mobilization of private-sector capital to begin to close it. At present, attracting private-sector investment in Africa remains a major challenge.
The G20 has recognized this challenge under the German Presidency with the Compact with Africa initiative, which continues under Argentina’s G20 Presidency. The private sector recognizes the important role that it can play in supporting these efforts. However, many are concerned about perceived and real lack of African countries’ technical capacity and awareness of the need to provide a stable investment environment. Many have expressed a desire to see the development of a pipeline of bankable projects that would provide more certainty for investors.
The private sector, the Global Infrastructure Hub and the World Economic Forum are uniquely positioned to initiate the Africa Infrastructure Fellowship Programme and engage the right mix of stakeholders from selected countries in Africa. The programme offers an opportunity to form a strong network of all relevant parties and accelerate Africa’s infrastructure development. This joint venture will provide practical training for civil servants from African countries by academic experts and infrastructure professionals, and offers the opportunity for fellows to spend time with a sponsor company, where they will learn about the private sector’s needs “on the job”. This business-led joint venture will be coordinated by the G20 Global Infrastructure Hub, Meridiam and the World Economic Forum. This initiative is supported by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.