The inaugural BUILD Africa Forum was a remarkable success
Global experts included H.E. Denis Sassou N’Guesso, President of the Republic of Congo, Vicente Fox, Former President of Mexico; Abdoulaye Wade, Former President of Senegal; Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; Dr Elham Mahmoud Ahmed Ibrahim, Commissioner for Infrastructure & Energy for the African Union; Jean-Jacques Bouya, Minister to the President of the Republic of Congo for Spatial Planning and Delegate General for Major Public Works; Dominique Lafont, President of Bolloré Africa Logistics, Otavio Azevedo, President of Andrade Gutierrez, Mario Pezzini, Director of the OECD Development Centre, as well as Robert Gumede, founder of Guma Group, among many others.
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Debates led to recommendations for immediate action from both public and private sector players:
1. Public Private Partnerships are key to Africa’s development. PPPs are important to close Africa’s infrastructure gap, as well as to generate new profits for African economies. Despite large discrepancies between countries that have managed to put up successful PPPs in Africa and those that have failed, PPPs have proven to work, provided they are based on a legal framework, with a fair allocation of risks and benefits between parties. This requires local capacity building on PPPs, long term planning and phasing, strong political will, as well as transparent coordination between public and private players.
2. Increasing the number of bankable projects is mandatory to boost infrastructure in Africa. But bankability is not only about generating profits. Projects must be understood in the financial, legal, environmental, as well as social and economic terms, to reduce long-term risks. Feasibility studies are key to cope with investors' aversion to risk. Governments can also help increase the level of bankability of some projects, while it's important to manage the country’s public debt.
3. Regional integration is not a choice, but a necessity for African economies to compete in a globalized world. African countries must not compete but rather work to complement each other, as economic and physical boundaries do not necessarily match. This can apply to all sectors from transport, to trade and telecommunications.
4. African economies need to establish their own development strategy. Development plans must create sustainable value locally, both in terms of taxation revenues and job creation. Empirical evidence shows that joint ventures with local players are far more profitable in the long run than mere foreign direct investments, with repatriation of profits.
5. Human capital is the most critical infrastructure. Solving the infrastructure deficit is only a short-term solution. Ultimately, infrastructure must serve development and stakeholders must work to further develop human capital in the long run through education, training and capacity building.
BUILD AFRICA, MORE THAN A FORUM FOR DISCUSSION, A PLATFORM FOR BUSINESS
During the BUILD Africa forum several agreements were signed to boost infrastructure in Africa:
1. The creation of an $100 million investment fund, committed to developing businesses in the value chain across the agro-business sector.
2. The creation of a dedicated PPP capacity facility, within the General Delegation for Major Public Works in Congo. This agreement, signed with Edifice Capital Group, aims to strengthen the capacity of local managers to structure and launch PPP projects in social and economic infrastructure as well as in agro-business projects.
3. An agreement to develop the hydro-energy potential of the Sounda site, in the district of Kouilou, where the Republic of Congo intends to implement a Public Private Partnership (PPP). The IFC was selected to advise to the Government of the Congo. A competitive tender is planned to select partners for this project with 1000 MW potential.
4. A MoU on fiber optic interconnection between Congo and Gabon: Thierry Moungalla, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications of the Republic of Congo and Ngoua Deme Pastor, Minister of Digital Economy, Communication and Post of Gabon represented by the Ambassador of the Republic of Gabon to Congo-Brazzaville, have signed an MoU on interconnection between the optic fiber networks CAB3 (Congo) and CAB4 (Gabon). Implemented through the World Bank’s Central African Backbone program for optic fiber interconnection in Central Africa, the agreement will increase the geographical coverage of the network, bandwidth capacity, and reduce the costs of communication in Central Africa.
Report distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of BUILD Africa Forum.