By Ron Chen, Correspondent ASEAN Region and Josephine Akaerr
Panelists at the IMC Indo-Africa Summit called for stronger public-private partnerships to close Africa’s infrastructure gap and speed up intra-continental and world trade.
The three-day event, which took place virtually from 4 to 6 November, drew lessons from India’s public-private partnership experience, which some speakers described as a good model for Africa.
Africa Finance Corporation Executive Director for Financial Services, Sanjeev Gupta drew attention to the need to develop bankable projects to attract the private sector.
“African governments cannot be expected, and are indeed in no position, to take early-stage project risks, although they should be. This risk arguably resides better with the private sector, to better realize commercial aspirations,” Gupta said on Friday, explaining how various fragmented systems in Africa constituted practical challenges. In contrast, India had the benefit of being one country with one set of challenges.
The African Development Bank’s Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, Solomon Quaynor said the Bank had created Africa50 as a key leader for private sector-led project preparation in Africa.
“In partnership with Africa50, we continue to innovate, including on infrastructure asset recycling opportunities, in order to attract later-stage private infrastructure investors into brownfield projects, thereby releasing capital for governments to invest in new infrastructure PPPs in their infrastructure development plans.”
He said COVID-19 recovery plans should incorporate the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Speaking earlier, Chairman of the India-based IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dinesh Joshi observed that India had shown the world how a successful PPP could be carried out in various sectors.
“India has paved the path for success,” he said.
Larsen & Toubro Infrastructure Development CEO Shailesh Pathak told the panel that India had made strong progress with digital infrastructure and narrowing the digital divide, a model he proposed for Africa.
The moderator of the panel and CEO of H-Energy Global Limited, Darshan Hiranandani, was optimistic that India and Africa would be growth leaders in the coming years, “and there has never been a (better) time.”
The greatest demand was identified across power, road & rail transport, while ICT infrastructure is on a better footing. For the Indian economy, the infrastructure sector is also a key driver, responsible for propelling the country’s overall development – including power, bridges, dams, roads, and urban infrastructure development.
The Indo-Africa Summit 2020 was organized by ABN (owners of CNBC Africa) and the IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry and explored bilateral economic and business opportunities between Sub Sahara Africa and India.