Continental Business Network (CBN)

Background: Continental Business Network  for infrastructure investments in Africa

The Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) is a continental strategic framework to address infrastructure bottlenecks in Africa through cross-border infrastructure development. The African Heads of State and Government adopted PIDA and the Institutional Architecture for Infrastructure Development in Africa (IAIDA), during the 18th ordinary session held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 29th-30th January 2012. PIDA represents a Pan-African approach that aims to reduce energy generation costs and improve energy access; minimize transport costs and increase intra-African trade; improve continental connectivity and promote trans-boundary water management. Accordingly, the first PIDA Priority Action Plan (PIDA-PAP 1), which was set out for implementation to 2020, embodies 51 cross-border programs disaggregated into over 400 individual projects.

Ultimately PIDA enables countries to meet forecast demand for infrastructure services and boost competitiveness by:

  1. Increasing efficiencies,
  2. accelerating growth,
  3. facilitating integration in the world economy,
  4. improving living standards and,
  5.  unleashing intra-African trade.

To achieve these complex outcomes, PIDA employs six tools to enable its implementation, as presented (and explained in Figure 1) below.

Figure 1: The six PIDA implementation tools

Each of PIDA’s implementation tools were established to create a bespoke contribution to PIDA goals (with some degree of overlap) by addressing key challenges.In 2014, the Dakar Financing Summit (DFS) identified significant challenges that undermined the successful implementation of PIDA’s Infrastructure projects. These were:

  1. Lack of capacity for early stage project preparation
  2. Lack of funding for early stage project preparation
  3. Lack of project financing
  4. Lack of involvement of private sector 

The lack of private sector involvement was identified as a major implementation bottleneck which cuts through the other three identified bottlenecks. Increasing the participation of the private sector was therefore identified as critical in narrowing existing gaps in financial and human resource requirements. The Continental Business Network (CBN) was conceptualized to address this issue and is the focal point of this document.

History of the Continental Business Network

The Continental Business Network (CBN) was launched in June 2015, in Cape Town South Africa under the leadership of AUDA-NEPAD. The Network was set to comprise of leading African, and global businesses, finance bodies as well as regional and international organizations as the main members who were responsible to crowd-in financing and support for infrastructure projects by creating a platform for collaboration between the public and private sectors. The participation and advisory of the private sector was believed to be important to bridge the infrastructure gap that is projected at USD 130-170 billion a year, with a financing gap of USD 68-108 billion. In this regard, the CBN was conceptualised as an important platform for relationship building to bridge the financial infrastructure gap through the encouragement of private sector participation in infrastructure development agenda though PIDA.

About the CBN

The Continental Business Network (CBN) is an African Union Heads of State and Government response to facilitate private sector advice and leadership in essential continent-wide infrastructure projects through the creation of a high-level private sector forum. In this regard, the CBN acts as an exclusive Infrastructure Investment  Advisory platform for African leaders, providing thought leadership and engagement on a range of strategic issues like policy, investment risk rating(s), project structuring and  specifically the existing constraints to the implementation of the PIDA projects. The Network will comprise leading African and global business and finance bodies as well as regional and international organizations. The CBN complements the efforts of the Presidential Infrastructure Champions Initiative (PICI). The purpose of the CBN is to engage and advance private sector priorities and requirements to invest in regional and transnational projects.

Mission and vision of the CBN

CBN Vision
  • “To bridge the infrastructure financing gap in Africa enhancing the livelihood of Africans”
CBN Mission
  • “The CBN is a public-private platform to engage private sector expertise and financing for infrastructure development”
CBN Strategic Objectives
  1. Improve Infrastructure Policy and Regulatory Environment to Facilitate Finance
  2. Market sound and champion bankable and investable infrastructure projects to improve infrastructure access
  3. Analyse data and formulate intelligence to provide advocacy for emerging infrastructure trends, opportunities, and challenges

The strategic objectives were streamlined to reflect the priority outcomes from the technical diagnostic and aligned to the vision and mission of the CBN, as well as to the defined value proposition. Importantly, the strategic objectives fully capture the essence of the means to deliver the strategic mandate whilst being succinct, and distinct of each other allowing for effective monitoring and evaluation downstream.

Network of business concept.

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