Project developers must strive to improve capacity in Africa

By Oliver Andrews, Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer, Africa Finance Corporation

Across Africa, there are many infrastructure projects which can be considered “feasible” – that is say, likely doable and sustainable. Unfortunately, too often, projects struggle to move from concept to bricks and mortar as they fail to meet the tests of bankers and reach financial close.

The key to accelerating infrastructure development in Africa is the growth of project development as an asset class. Here, dimensioning, mitigating and where possible eliminating the risks associated with projects ensures a project completes its journey from feasibility to financial close. Helpfully, project development is beginning to emerge as an industry in its own right across Africa.

However, it is also vital to remember the importance of other stakeholders involved in the journeys of infrastructure projects. Project developers, yes, commit their own resources and time – currently an average of seven years – but so too do governments, whose civil servants, for example, must review and agree power purchasing agreements, maintain and update national mining codes and regulate markets.

We must therefore recognise, and strive with equal zeal, to improve and develop capacity in
the public and private sector in Africa.