Unreliable infrastructure in Africa a major setback in development endeavours, IMF executive director

Setbacks in African development endeavours can be attributed to the lack of reliable infrastructure, according to Mahmoud Mohieldin – Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group‘s Senior Vice President for the 2030 Development Agenda.

Speaking at Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development, Mohieldin warned that 50-60 million Africans are at risk of getting pushed into poverty and that 110 million African children suffer from learning poverty having no access to education.

FDI in Africa declined by 20 percent; however, trade will recover but there will be a trade gap differing significantly between low-income countries and middle-income countries, the IMF director general said.

Furthermore, some African states are benefiting from the debt suspension initiative so as 39 out of 54 African countries got a total of $25.3-billion-worth of payback postponed, Mohieldin noted. He added 105.5 billion SDRs have been allocated to Africa.

“Making the vaccine available is a necessity,” Mohieldin stressed.

“There’s a need to secure equal access to vaccine, invest in delivery infrastructure and logistics, and deal with trade-related property rights challenges,” the international official pointed out.

In addition, investment in human capital, resilience, and structural reforms is a must, Mohieldin said asserting that recovery has to be green.

Moreover, “investment in infrastructure and digital transformation can raise private investment by 10 percent,” the IMF director general added.

“If you’re serious about private investment, you have to invest in infrastructure,” he noted adding, “We also shall not forget about building adequate cities.”

One way to optimise financing for development is mobilising domestic resources, the IMF director general said warning that “$90 billion of Africa’s resources are subject to illicit financial flows, which must be tackled.”

Khaled Sherif, Vice President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) for Regional Development, Integration, and Business Delivery, highlighted that the GDP per capita of 3.1 billion Africans has not improved.

Sherif’s statements took place in the same session titled “From Rapid Economic Recovery to Structural Transformation: Africa’s Pathway Towards Sustainable Recovery and Development.”

He added that 39 African countries are not able to finance their external debt worth $100 billion. However, compared to the US external debt worth trillions of dollars, that is not much, Sherif noted.

Nevertheless, African states need much effort and time to restore development achieved in the 5 years that preceded COVID-19 outbreak, Sherif highlighted.

Back to the importance of digital inclusion, Egypt’s Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology Amr Talaat stated on Tuesday at Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development that there are four pillars to promote the sector in Africa.

One is inclusion. For instance, internet access can expand in tandem with the extent of mobile phone penetration. Second is resilience by adopting emerging technologies. Third is human talent. Four is maintaining strong cybersecurity, mainly data protection.

As all the aforementioned hopes depend on collaboration and safety, Amani Abou-Zeid  – African Union’s Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy – underscored that African countries have been sharing medical supplies, and that African airways have been assuming the delivery missions unlike other spots in the world during the pandemic.

Africa CDC secured 670 million doses of vaccine in addition to those provided through Covax, Abou-Zeid noted saying that any grim look at the continent’s handling of the crisis is not valid.