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15.11.2009 Research Findings

Africans pay higher for basic services - Report

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Accra, Nov. 14, GNA - Utilities providers shortchange Africans as they pay more for basic services compared to people elsewhere in the world. Africans pay 12 dollars monthly compared to two dollars by South Asians for mobile telephone services.

This was contained in a report, "Africa's Infrastructure: A Time For Transformation", a release from the Accra Office of the World Bank said at the weekend.

The Report said; "the poor state of infrastructure in Sub Saharan Africa - its electricity, water, roads and information and communication technology (ICT) - cuts national economic growth by two percentage points every year and reduces productivity by as much as 40 per cent".

The Report, which was based on an in-depth assessment of the state of infrastructure in 24 countries in Africa, said 93 billion dollars would be required annually to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and achieve national development targets over a decade.

The Report said to catch up during the next 10 years, fragile States would need to devote more than a third of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to infrastructure development and stressed the need for a massive effort to overhaul Africa's infrastructure.

It said: "Access to energy is critical for economic growth and poverty alleviation; no country in the world has developed its economy without abundant energy supplies. Today chronic power shortages plague 30 African countries and only one out of four Africans has access to electricity. The entire installed generation capacity of 48 Sub Saharan African countries is 68 gigawatts, no more than Spain's."

The Report said only one in three rural dwellers in Africa has access to an all-season road; more than 20 per cent of the population in Cameroon; Ghana; Mauritania; Niger and Tanzania must travel more than two kilometers to their primary water supply source.

It said Africa was already spending 45 billion dollars annually on infrastructure but providers waste 8.0 billion dollars on excessive staffing; distribution losses; under-collection of revenue and inadequate maintenance, adding, "African utilities (providers) are unable to collect some 2.4 billion dollars of services billed".

The Report, however, observed that Africa has recently benefited from some significant improvements in infrastructure with more than 50 per cent of Africans living in the range of GSM mobile phone signals in 2006.

It said five African countries have already met the millennium targets for universal water access and 12 others were on-track to do so and around 80 per cent of African's main road network was in good to fair condition.

The African Union Commission; African Development Bank; Development Bank of Southern Africa; The New Partnership for Africa's Development and World Bank conducted the study.


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