The Critical Infrastructure Sector in Africa

Published: July 1, 2015

Africa is rising in economic terms. According to the African Development Bank (2014), “African economies have sustained unprecedented rates of growth, driven mainly by strong domestic demand, improved macroeconomic management, a growing middle class, and increased political stability.” Since the start of the new millennium, Africa’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been rising by 5% a year. Moreover, in terms of growth, Africa has outperformed both Latin America and developed economies over the last 5 years; successfully weathered the global financial crisis of 2008/09; and continued to demonstrate resilience in 2013.

This study focuses on three broad areas as opportunities for investment and market expansion of US/ VA-based defense contractors. The first area of analysis is the energy sector/ power supply, storage, transfer and distribution system in Africa, more specifically sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, the energy sector of sub-Saharan Africa is unable to fully meet the needs and aspirations of its citizens. Some countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and Angola have made progress in reaping economic benefits from their natural resources, but a lot still needs to be done to build an effective energy sector that will support more dynamic and inclusive economic growth. This study identifies several programs and technological options for reliable energy supply and renewable energy production, as well as some business models for successful commercialization and exploitation of such technologies in several African countries. This overview is completed with the case study on South Africa and its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program.

Second, this report focuses on powering telecoms using renewable energy sources. Network availability and operational expenses efficiency are one of the key operational objectives of mobile telecommunication networks, and the energy sector is a critical enabler for attainment of these objectives. Failures in equipment, failures in energy provision, energy input costs, operational leakages, operational inefficiencies and other affecting factors related to or resulting from unreliable and insufficient energy supply, independently or in conjunction with one another, severely hinder normal functioning of telecoms. That is why new operational and business models are needed to create a well-rounded and robust energy supply system that taps into the vast solar energy potential. The report briefly touches upon some of these models, and focuses in more detail on Senegal – its power infrastructure, regulatory environment and the specific undertakings for green powering of telecoms there.

The third section of this report analyzes the ICT sector and the digitization of the economy and society– the mass adoption of connected digital services by consumers, enterprises and governments – as key economic drivers that accelerate growth and facilitate job creation, particularly in Africa. For the purposes of this study, ICT is treated as ranging far beyond a basic infrastructure, but as a multi-layered ecosystem, which is represented in Figure 1. Given the complexity of this multi-hierarchical system and the diversity of its numerous sub-systems, it seems unrealistically ambitious to try to provide an overview of latest developments in each of these segments in Africa. Based on extensive review of literature and studies, Kenya, and its e-government and open data platform and ICT-enabled business process outsourcing services, seems an exceptionally promising area for new businesses.

Finally, this report contains a framework for establishing a Knowledge Center for strengthening the accounting and auditing profession in Africa. Many different stakeholders, corporate investors in particular, are in need of adequate, valid, verifiable and well-integrated or linked financial and non-financial information for addressing governance, operational and strategic matters. The World Bank already has a marked presence in Africa, working on accounting and auditing standards and establishing and advancing the institutional framework underpinning the accounting and auditing practices in the private sector. Specifically, it provides assistance and funding for the following areas: statutory framework supporting the accountancy professions; education and training of accountants; professional accountancy organizations and ethics, accounting and auditing standards; mentoring, enforcement and oversight of the profession etc. A major segment of this could be the Knowledge Center, which performs the following knowledge management functions: codification and capture of knowledge; collaboration and relationship management; and virtualization and communication.

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