The big picture: Trends in Africa Infrastructure investment

Every year the ICA collects data on infrastructure investments in Africa. This information is presented in our annual report. For the production of the 2012 ICA Annual Report, entitled Infrastructure Financing Trends in Africa, the survey was more comprehensive than in previous years. For example, there was analysis on the role of African national governments and a more detailed analysis of the private sector. In 2012, ICA members committed substantially more than they did in 2011, but not as much as they did in 2010.

  • China remains the biggest financier of Africa’s infrastructure, though its’ commitments dropped from the 2011 level.
  • High growth countries such as Brazil, India and South Korea are playing a positive role in infrastructure growth.
  • African national governments are investing more in infrastructure –with regional development banks playing an increasingly important role.

The most encouraging trend is that private sector capital is mobilizing fast – but scratching below these headlines shows a somewhat disappointing set of trends. There are still relatively few investments in transport, water and sanitation sectors and with mobile telephony maturing across the continent there is not much interest in ICT private sector investment.

Also, on close inspection it appears that by stripping away a few extremely large projects (in North Africa and South Africa) the underlying trends amongst all financiers is relatively flat.

Another disappointing trend is a slow-down in disbursements.  The reason for this gap between commitments and disbursements is a bit un-clear. It may reflect backlog challenges. We should note, however, that there are limitations to the trend analysis done in our survey.   For example, there is no central database for private sector investments or commitments made by China. Also there are not consistent data sets within the ICA members, so this should be taken into consideration.

For a detailed analysis of the entire Africa Infrastructure investment scenario you can download the 2012 ICA Annual Report entitled, Infrastructure Financing Trends in Africa.

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