Solar panels and telephones in Qunu in the Eastern Cape. South Africa. Photo: Trevor Samson / World Bank

Infrastructure in Africa and How the Private Sector Helps

By the International Finance Corporation

Infrastructure in Africa and How the Private Sector Helps

Infrastructure is an essential foundation of development.

Effective, well-regulated systems for the provision of power, transport, water, and the fast-converging world of telecom, media, and technology lie at base of successful economies the world over.

There is almost no way to overestimate their impact in raising incomes and improving living standards—whether measured through their contribution to private sector growth, job creation, trade and investment, food security, or other important indicators.

And while often primarily the domain of government, infrastructure is also an area where the private sector can make a vital impact, providing essential services to large numbers of users, efficiently, affordably, and profitably.

Time and again, we have seen cases where private investors have brought in the capital, technology, and management expertise needed to improve the performance of high-priority infrastructure assets—giving large numbers of people their first access to electrical power, clean water, or improved transportation and communication.

Incorporating high standards of environmental and social sustainability, such projects can make a great impact without depleting the fragile ecosystems on which we all depend.

The demand for such projects, and the financing needed to make them a reality, is enormous. No one institution can begin to meet it alone. Partnerships are essential, and while IFC makes infrastructure one of its highest priorities, with a special focus on Africa, we do so with a commitment to working closely with the World Bank, other international finance institutions, and a broad range of donors, partners, and clients.

Much of our emphasis is on structuring and introducing public-private partnerships to improve the delivery of basic services. As projects are structured, financed, and implemented, we also study the core principles and lessons learned, then share them widely for broader impact.

The stories in Telling Our Story: Infrastructure provide clear evidence of the importance well-designed private participation in infrastructure has in meeting IFC’s overarching goal: Creating opportunity where it’s needed most.

Editor’s Note:

This article was first published on the IFC Blog, and is reproduced with permission.

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