The infrastructure deficit in Africa is estimated to be $130-170 billion per year according to newly revised figures from the African Development Bank. This gap is relative to 2025 targets for electrification, access to water supply and sanitation, ICT, and road and other transport sectors. While overcoming the deficit is a financial challenge, given the type of infrastructure decides development strategies and the types of actions and interactions to be promoted, Africa needs to seize the opportunity to develop its infrastructure systems in a sustainable manner.
This research looks at existing infrastructure development goals and commitments in the continent and globally, and cuts through sustainability aspects of national and transnational infrastructure projects. It seeks to identify the challenges and opportunities of planning and development of infrastructure systems in Africa in the context of a world that needs to decarbonize by the middle of the century. The literature and best practices in Africa and elsewhere will be used in understanding what a sustainable infrastructure development entails in terms of low carbon and resilient economic growth. Using the framework of life cycle management and the associated analytical tools of material flow analysis and life cycle sustainability assessment, the current institutional architecture surrounding ongoing projects will be examined. Insights on how these tools help in developing and selecting better projects through ranking and prioritization, and the benefits of going beyond the life time of projects to cover operation and end of life of infrastructure systems will be established. The research is expected to inform project specifications and professional services agreements, and infrastructure management with the help of environmental, economic and social performance indicators as Africa endeavours to attract more investments in sustainable and resilient infrastructure.
A major part of the research result will be included as a chapter in a handbook under development by Stellenbosch University’s CTS in collaboration with STIAS on ‘Retooling development pathway for sustainability transition in Africa’ with editors Mark Swilling and Desta Mebratu.