Africa’s annual infrastructure financing gap is estimated at $64 billion to $108 billion, a research conducted by the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) and Omdena, a data collection platform, has revealed.
Mr Rob Floyd, the Director and Senior Advisor at ACET, unveiled the findings during a virtual press engagement.
According to the findings, Africa’s track record in moving projects to financial close was poor, and about 80 per cent of infrastructure projects failed at the feasibility and business-plan stages.
It indicated that nearly 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lacked access to grid electricity —accounting for over two-thirds of the global population without power.
The study revealed that between 2013 and 2017, the average annual funding for infrastructure development in Africa was $77 billion, 42 per cent of which was funded through government budgets.
Mr Floyd said the infrastructure gap facing Africa was huge, up to about $170 billion per year or probably $1.7 trillion over the next 20 years.
He said if one took connectivity, such as the internet connectivity to connect about 1.1 billion people by 2030, it would require an investment of about $10 billion per year.
The challenges were huge and currently 600 million citizens in Africa did not even have access to electricity, he said.
Mr Floyd said only 39 per cent of people in Africa had access to the internet, with 18 per cent having access to the internet in their homes.
What ACET wanted to do was to help governments to decide which investments might have the greatest impact, that might be of high priority and particularly taking into account data that would help them understand the future, whether it was demographic, mobility or climate change, he said.
That was to ensure that the investments were the best with the greatest impact.
Mr Floyd said the study was the first ever artificial intelligence challenge looking at infrastructure in Africa.
Among the researchers were Mr Gijs van den Dool, a Data Scientist and Geographic Information System Specialist from France, and Madam Anna Koroleva, a Computational Linguist and Natural Language Processing Specialist.
The ACET and Omdena completed Africa’s first ever Artificial Intelligence Challenge on December 17, 2020 with more than 40 data scientists from 20 countries contributing.
The other project partners include the World Resources Institute, Save the Children, and the United Nations World Food Programme.
Omdena Challenge used publicly available data – satellite images, socio-economic data, climate and topological data, population and demographic data, Google Trends, Google business data and social media data.
The goal is to model the current situation, past temporal changes in population and infrastructure, and in the next step predict future demands.
The challenge resulted in innovative models that can be used as tools to make decisions about infrastructure investment.
ACET is an economic policy institute, supporting Africa’s long-term growth through transformation.