Lack of adequate infrastructure hinders growth
(PANA)-- Malawi has said Africa needs to focus on regional infrastructural development, in energy and water resources management if the continent is to realise its true growth potential, PANA reported on Wednesday.
McFellow Ngwira, Secretary for Malawi’s ministry of transport and public infrastructure, was addressing an experts’ group meeting, convened in the capital, Lilongwe, by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa - Southern Africa office (ECA-SA) ahead of the third joint annual meeting of the African Union (AU) conference of ministers of economy and finance and the ECA conference of African ministers of finance, planning and economic development, which Malawi will host from 29 to 30 March.
Ngwira said key challenges confronting infrastructural development in energy and water sectors in Southern Africa included low and unsustainable access to electricity and water tariff, a rapidly growing demand and the lack of capacity for project preparation, packaging and financing.
‘The lack of adequate infrastructure can hinder potential growth, weaken international competitiveness and adversely affect our poverty reduction efforts,’ he said.
The experts group meeting was therefore called to provide Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member countries with policy recommendations to improve the shortfalls. The experts believe realistic policy recommendations will help countries assess the costs and benefits of regional infrastructural development in Southern Africa.
A working document at the meeting says that recent studies show that the poor state of infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa cuts national economic growth by two percentage points every year and reduces business productivity by as much as 40 per cent. ‘The water sector is one of the key areas where the lack of adequate infrastructure poses serious challenges,’ read the document.
ECA’s Southern Africa office director Jennifer Kargbo told the experts that Africa’s water resources were abundant but ‘they are grossly under utilised, owing to an absence of water storage and irrigation infrastructure.
‘The achievement of water security will require a significant expansion of water storage capacity from current levels of 200 cubic meters per capita to levels of at least 750 cubic meters per capita, a level that currently is found only in South Africa,’ she observed.
Recommendations of the experts group meeting will be submitted for consideration to the intergovernmental committee of experts (ICE) of the ECA-SA, which will also meet in Lilongwe later in the week.
The ICE meets annually to oversee the overall formulation and implementation of the programme of work and priorities of ECA-SA. This year ICE will focus on responses to the impact of the global financial and economic crises in Southern Africa.
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