Japan’s MLIT to help drive “Quality Infrastructure Investment” in Africa
20 April 2017
Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) is to help drive investment in quality infrastructure in Africa, following a successful meeting with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA).
The Study Session on Infrastructure Development Trends in Africa, which took place on 18 April 2017, connected MLIT and JICA in Tokyo with the ICA in Abidjan. During the session, the ICA gave presentations to MLIT and JICA on 1) infrastructure financing trends in Africa, based on ICA’s flagship annual report; 2) addressing the infrastructure financing gap; and 3) an analysis of Japan’s Yen loan infrastructure projects in Africa.
From the ICA Secretariat, Dr Katsuya Kasai, Senior Infrastructure Liaison Officer, was invited to give lectures on the three topics to high-level governmental officials from MLIT led by Ms Kazuko Ishigaki (Director, International Planning for Construction Industry, Policy Bureau) and JICA officials led by Mr Tomoki Kobayashi (Director, Planning and TICAD Process Division, Africa Department).
In the ICA presentations, Dr Kasai emphasised the following key points:
- It is crucial to mobilise large-scale financial flows from the private sector, especially from pension and insurance funds;
- While there are a variety of measures to accelerate the above (e.g. strengthening of infrastructure funds, securitisation, issuing infrastructure bonds, intra-African investment, guarantees, improving the business environment, PPP implementation structures, tariff levying system, etc.) there are challenges to overcome in implementing these and turning them into reality;
- While it is certainly beneficial for African countries to implement quality infrastructure development, it is imperative to consider the needs of African countries when selecting the technologies to be adopted while keeping a certain level of quality; and
- To promote quality infrastructure development in Africa, it would be beneficial to prepare guidelines including technical specifications for some major project types.
The presentations were followed by active discussions between the three parties on a range of issues, from the policy level with regard to financial/economic, procurement and PPP policies in Africa to the project level, including infrastructure development opportunities, best practice and lessons learned regarding various aspects of quality of infrastructure projects in Africa.
During the discussions, MLIT introduced its pro-active contribution to addressing one of the challenges to implementing Quality Infrastructure Investment in Africa – the lack of technical specifications and guidelines for specific sectoral projects – by sharing their experience and research on quality infrastructure. This welcome initiative will help ensure financially and technically sustainable infrastructure in Africa by showing criteria that need to be met.
Lastly, MLIT, JICA and the ICA agreed upon further cooperation and collaboration in future. It is hoped that the discussions will enrich the future activities of the Japan-Africa Infrastructure Development Association (JAIDA), established by MLIT in August 2016 to help promote Quality Infrastructure Investment in Africa.
Providing Quality Infrastructure Investment requires action throughout the project life-cycle, from pre-investment through build & implementation to operation & maintenance. The five pillars of Quality Infrastructure Investment are economic efficiency; convenience and amenities; safety and resilience; inclusiveness; and sustainability.