THE World Bank has advised Uganda to aggressively mobilize domestic resources to build infrastructure that will make the country more competitive.
Announcing a new strategy for Africa Obiageli Ezekwesili, World Bank vice president for the Africa region said filling the funding gap required to build a functional and competitive infrastructure can only be boosted by increased commerce in the country.
“You have to improve your customs, but by really reforming the business sector more people will have the opportunity to do business and pay taxes,” said Obiagelli, in a teleconference with media from across Africa recently.
It is generally agreed that Africa needs to build a proper functional rail, road and water transport system to spur business and competitiveness. The Africa infrastructure study indicates that there is a $48b funding gap to patch up the infrastructure.
But it is estimated that the continent can generate $17b from improving policies, institutions and general efficiencies.
The new strategy for Africa alongside country specific development objectives aims at moving the continent to middle-income status in 7-10 years time.
The last strategy since 2005, the African Action Plan largely did not take into consideration the views of the African people and like the late 1980s and early 1990s engagement with Africa, little impact was created on the continent.
“We, therefore, used the opportunity of our new strategy to listen, learn and define how we could better support the continents aspiration as it maintains the momentum for economic reforms over the next decade,” she added.
The Bank intends to use partnerships first, knowledge second and then finance instead of fronting finance as the key ingredients in fighting poverty.
“We are very opportunistic about the future of Africa,” said Obiageli.
Uganda World Bank country manager Kundhavi Kadiresan said the focus should rightly be on public private partnership (PPP) because “you cannot depend on government resources alone.
The PPP has been delayed due to lack of an enabling law that private sector feels would guarantee their investments in such huge projects. There are also about 17 unpassed commercial laws stuck either in Cabinet or Parliament.
“We are hoping that government will find priority to give right signals to private sector,” said Obiageli
By David Mugabe and Samuel Sanya: The Newvision Newspaper