Recent Economic Development in Infrastructure

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  • Publication
    Zimbabwe's Infrastructure: A Continental Perspective
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2011-03) Pushak, Nataliya; Briceño-Garmendia, Cecilia M.
    Despite general economic decline and power supply deficiencies, infrastructure made a modest net contribution of less than half a percentage point to Zimbabwe's improved per capita growth performance in recent years. Raising the country's infrastructure endowment to that of the region's middle-income countries could boost annual growth by about 2.4 percentage points. Zimbabwe made significant progress in infrastructure in its early period as an independent state. The country managed to put in place a national electricity network and establish regional interconnection in the power sector; to build an extensive network of roads for countrywide accessibility and integration into the regional transport corridors; to lay the water and sewerage system; and to make progress on building dams and tapping the significant irrigation potential. Unfortunately, at present the cross-cutting issue across all these sectors is Zimbabwe's inability to maintain and rehabilitate the existing infrastructure since the country became immersed in economic and political turmoil in the late 1990s. Neglect of all sectors due to the crisis has resulted in a generalized lack of new investment (in the power and water sectors in particular), and the accumulation of a huge rehabilitation agenda. Quality of service has declined across the board. The power system has become unjustifiably costly, inefficient, and unreliable. The condition of roads has deteriorated to the point that Zimbabwe became a bottleneck on the North-South transport corridor. Rural connectivity hardly exists. Failure to treat potable water, along with the deterioration of the water, sanitation, and garbage disposal systems, was responsible for the spread of cholera in 2008. By 2010 cholera affected most areas of the country and posed a health threat to neighboring countries. Looking ahead, Zimbabwe faces a number of important infrastructure challenges. Zimbabwe's most pressing challenges lie in the power and water sectors. Inefficient and unreliable power supply poses major risks to the economy, while the maintenance and upgrading of existing power infrastructure no longer looks to be affordable. At the same time, overhauling the water and sewerage system is imperative for curbing the public health crisis.
  • Publication
    The Republic of Congo's Infrastructure: A Continental Perspective
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2011-03) Pushak, Nataliya; Briceño-Garmendia, Cecilia M.
    Upgrading infrastructure plays a critical role in the Republic of Congo's quest to diversify its economy and reduce poverty. It is also an important source of growth on its own. A cross-country statistical analysis conducted for this report shows that infrastructure contributed one-half of one percentage point to the Republic of Congo's per capita gross domestic product (GDP) growth annually from 2001 to 2006. However, if the country's infrastructure could be improved to the level seen in Mauritius, the leading country in Sub-Saharan Africa, it could contribute more than 3 percentage points to annual per capita growth. The Republic of Congo's power infrastructure is inadequate and inefficiently operated. The country lags well behind peer countries in generation capacity and electrification. The parts of the population not served by the grid face exorbitant costs. The government has responded to these issues with an ambitious investment plan. However, if new assets are to operate effectively, major inefficiencies in the power utility will also need to be addressed. The utility's transmission and distribution losses are 47 percent, more than double best-practice benchmarks, while the cost of overstaffing is 30 percent of utility revenue. Tariffs recover barely half the cost of service provision, even though full cost recovery will be affordable to the population. In the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, the Republic of Congo has made good progress in developing its mobile telephony market in recent years, with high levels of signal coverage. The cost of international connectivity is currently high, but it should fall once the country connects to the international submarine cable and completes its domestic fiber optic network. On the other hand, the physically dilapidated and financially depleted condition of the fixed-line telephone operator is becoming a constraint to raising Internet penetration. The Republic of Congo performs relatively well on service coverage in the water and sanitation sector. The country's access statistics are substantially ahead of those in its peer group, particularly with regard to piped water, stand-posts, and improved latrines. However, access to services is much greater in urban areas than in rural areas. Furthermore, under-pricing of water has hurt the financial soundness of the water utility, even though analysis suggests that cost recovery tariffs would be affordable to consumers.