Mainstreaming Sustainable Infrastructure Investment in Africa through Cities

To respond proactively to the imperatives of urbanisation, industrialisation, climate change, and demographic transition in Africa, there is a pressing need for investment in infrastructure and service delivery systems. Particularly in and around the larger metropolitan areas, there is mounting unmet demand for new infrastructure and the retrofit and rehabilitation of existing systems. Circulating discourses position African infrastructure, and particularly urban areas, as the next untapped investment frontier. However, we know that the sort of infrastructure that is often seen to be ‘bankable’ by financial institutions does not always align with the sustainability needs of African cities and countries.

To address the challenge of financing sustainable infrastructure, Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft and the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at University of Cape Town are embarking on an innovative process of knowledge co-production and action research. This research process includes the development of several position papers and two roundtable discussions. We hope that these two processes are the start of a rich engagement between financial actors and African urban experts.

The position papers will inform the process and be circulated for discussion. The following papers are being developed as key inputs:

  • Infrastructure financing in Africa: overview, research gaps and research agenda (Liza Cirolia, Andrea Pollio, and Edgar Pieterse)
  • Financing sustainable sanitation infrastructure in African cities (David Schaub-Jones)
  • Financing sustainable mobility infrastructure in African cities (Andrew Gasnolar)
  • Financing sustainable ICT and digitization in African cities (Andrea Pollio and Liza Cirolia)
  • Financing sustainable energy infrastructure in African cities (Lauren Hermanus and Anton Cartwright)
  • Way forward for improving investment in African infrastructure (Liza Cirolia, Anton Cartwright, and Edgar Pieterse)

The related roundtable events will bring together invited representatives from multi-lateral financial institutions, development banks, and academic institutions. The overarching aim of the roundtable events is to:

  • Develop a co-produced understanding of the opportunities to mainstream sustainable infrastructure into the portfolios and projects across the sector
  • Identify relevant measures to mobilise financing for urban development at all levels of government
  • Build a community of like-minded finance sector actors, committed to improving the practice and transparency of the infrastructure finance sector.

Roundtable 1 | 10 September 2021
Topic: Potential and Prospects of Sustainable Infrastructure In Africa

Roundtable 2 | 22 September 2021
Topic: Towards a Shared Policy Agenda for Accelerating the Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Agenda