With the aim of boosting smart, clean and secure links in energy, digital, and transport and strengthening education, health and research systems across the world, the European Union launched the project called Global Gateway. Global Gateway stands for sustainable and trusted connections that work for people and the planet, to tackle the most pressing global challenges, from climate change and protecting the environment, to improving health security and boosting competitiveness and global supply chains. It is about increasing investments promoting high standards and democratic value, transparency and good governance, equal partnerships, green and clean, secure infrastructure and that catalyse private sector investment. This is Europe's contribution to narrowing the global investment gap, that requires a concerted effort in line with the June 2021 commitment of the G7 Leaders to launch a transparent, high-standard, and values-driven infrastructure partnership to meet global infrastructure development needs. I am curious about infrastructure connectivity, and I got so much interested when I read in an article that over the last 20 years, a plethora of economic corridors, trade and logistics observatories, cross-border investment programs, and regional bodies dedicated to promote connectivity and regional integration have emerged.
Infrastructure connectivity refers to the linkages of communities, economies, regions and nations through transport, communications, energy and water networks. Despite the gains registered in improving regional infrastructure connectivity across the African continent since the establishment of the African Union along with NEPAD, Africa still faces serious infrastructure shortcomings across all sectors, both in terms of access and quality. For instance, only a quarter of Africa’s road network is paved, the penetration rate for internet is less than 10%, while only 38% of the African population has access to electricity. Studies have shown that the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) and the private sector development has adversely been affected by poor road, port and rail facilities which add 30% to 40% to the costs of goods traded among African countries. Furthermore, a recent World Bank study found that the poor state of infrastructure in many parts of Africa reduced national economic growth by two percentage points every year and cut business productivity by as much as 40%, making Africa – in spite of its enormous mineral and other natural resources – the region with the lowest productivity levels in the world.
Some opportunities that exist for a greener infrastructure connectivity in Africa are the investment in infrastructure that is not keeping pace with the growth in demand for key services, and the increase in urbanization, which is altering the natural landscape of African cities, thus leading to a range of adverse impacts such as habitat fragmentation and deforestation. Greener infrastructure connectivity opens a range of innovative financing mechanisms for urban infrastructure but some challenges it faces globally include:
1. Design standards
2. How financeable it is
3. Regulatory pathways
5. Socio-economic considerations
In my own opinion, I think developing pilot programs, learning about design variations and properly assessing the economic factors that affect developers’ decisions can bring positive change
to these challenges. Transport access can improve education and markets for traders’ outputs and others by cutting costs, facilitating private investment, improving jobs and income levels for many.
Greater inter-connectivity can translate into higher productivity, gains in service efficiency, greater spillover benefits of investments, and growth in trade. National governments, International Organizations, and other international stakeholders have long recognized the significance of infrastructure connectivity in achieving sustainable development and shared prosperity. As a result, connectivity has become a key priority for policymakers and practitioners.