According the to a recent EIU report, “African economies suffer from infrastructure deficiencies on many fronts. Power, in particular, is a major constraint, with 30 of the 48 countries in the region—including SSA’s largest oil producer, Nigeria—facing regular power cuts. The infrastructure deficit largely reflects years of underinvestment and neglect, but difficult economic geography is also to blame: 15 countries in the region are landlocked, population densities are low and people are widely dispersed.”
This is certainly not news to anyone working in Africa. The fact that a number countries are landlocked is not an explanation of the problem – development of transcontinental infrastructure in North America, Europe and Asia has shown that there are strong economic, social and political incentives to connect inland areas with coastal hobs.
Rather, the real news is in the steps being taken to address current infrastructure deficits across the continent. The Economist’s ideological allies, the IMF and the World Bank are present in a number of large projects on the continent, but new sources of finance and technological innovation, from Beijing to Bangalore and Bonn are resolving persistent limiations on infrastructure development.
As pointed in a recent World Bank survey, central Africa is one part of the continent where the infrastructure deficit is most acute (see map below), yet it also represents one of the continent’s greatest potential growth zones, with a number of major new projects.
The largest recent deal, currently in the process of being renegotiated, is a Chinese backed resource for infrastructure deal in the Congo, involving major road, rail and hydropower developments, but more modest projects are already underway
in Cameroon, Guinea, and Congo Brazzaville. As central Africa’s road and rail systems move into the 21st century with the help of Asian financing, regional integration is set to speed up. With the confluence of rapid urbanisation and a strong demand for African natural resources, national leaders, and their industrialist colleagues, are driving a new round of regional development in the heart of the continent.
With technical support from Japan and Korea rapidly increasing, strategic central African states like the Congo DRC have a plethora of high quality development partners to work with. From transport to telecoms, Asian states have recognized and are acting upon the potential of African markets. Through investments in hard infrastructure and multimodal transport planning, their investments are driving development of integrated infrastructure systems in central Africa.