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13.10.2008 Africa

Addressing Africa’s Infrastructure Needs

By World Bank Ghana Office

Washington, D.C. – October 12, 2008 -- Africa faces an infrastructure financing gap of US$35 billion per year. This, and other pressing facts, was revealed during a recent seminar “Meeting Africa's Infrastructure Needs: The Twin Challenges of Financing and Sustainability”.

Held on Thursday, October 9, 2008, the event brought together policymakers, business leaders, civil society, and representatives from the World Bank to discuss how this vast infrastructure gap can be narrowed, and what steps African governments can take to secure a 'New Deal' to address the dire power crisis gripping the continent.

“Africa's infrastructure deficit is hindering economic growth and sustainable development,” Obiageli K. Ezekwesili, Vice President for the World Bank's Africa Region, said in her welcome remarks. She was joined by co-chair Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairman of the African Union Commission, who noted that “harmonizing regulations was important for attracting infrastructure investments in Africa.”

World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Kathy Sierra presented in her opening remarks an overview of the Bank's new “Sustainable Infrastructure Action Plan.”

Featured speakers included Dr. Elham Ibrahim, Energy and Infrastructure Commissioner at the African Union Commission, and Tshepo Mahloele, CEO of Harith Fund Managers, South Africa, who is spearheading the launch of a $1 billion Pan-Africa Infrastructure Development Fund financed by private investment. The event was moderated by award-winning journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault.