To effectively support implementation of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa Priority Action Plan (PIDA-PAP), AUDA-NEPAD relies on data generated by project owners, African Union member countries and Regional Economic Communities to monitor progress. Although work has been ongoing to improve the flow of information on regional and continental PIDA projects, challenges remain, in terms of data collection, verification and analysis.
In order to enhance the process and quality of data collection, AUDA-NEPAD has made two information systems available to African institutions dealing with infrastructure development – the African Infrastructure Database (AID) and the Virtual PIDA Information Centre (VPic).
AID is an online data management tool for capturing, validating and storing infrastructure projects information in Africa using standard metadata descriptors such as project characteristics, location, economic indicators, financial parameters, implementation status, et cetera. It allows Regional Economic Communities, specialised institutions, project owners and implementing agencies, to manage their infrastructure information using a harmonised user interface and clearly defined workflows. The tool also provides other information systems selected from infrastructure information, belonging to specific regions or institutions, or of certain nature, for presentation to targeted audiences.
VPic is a web-based knowledge portal focused on PIDA regional and continental infrastructure projects. Its purpose is to facilitate the sharing of PIDA-PAP information, promote participation in PIDA implementation, enable the tracking of progress in PIDA-PAP implementation (Monitoring & Evaluation), and to promote investment opportunities in PIDA-PAP projects. VPic presents validated PIDA project information stored in the African Infrastructure Database in an interactive dashboard to track project implementation.
Deployment of the AUDA-NEPAD tools for infrastructure
Since its launch in 2013, the Virtual PIDA Information Centre has been put to use by stakeholders all over the continent and beyond, as it presents up to date information on all of Africa’s 51 cross-border infrastructure projects. These projects comprise more than 400 actionable sub-projects across four main infrastructure sectors, namely energy, transport, transboundary water and ICT.
In order to improve the flow of information on PIDA projects, training and capacity building initiatives have been undertaken on both VPic and AID. The training methods used often take an interactive and hands-on approach where participants go through all the African Infrastructure Databaseand VPic functions. Thereafter, participants are given the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the platform and they continuously update project information relating to PIDA projects within their respective regions, and also provide recommendations on how the platform can be enhanced. To date, close to 200 stakeholders drawn from East African Community (EAC), Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), Souther Africa Development Community (SADC) and Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) have been sensitised, while more than 70 project owners have been trained to update information through theAfrican Infrastructure Databaseand VPic. In the latter half of 2019, sensitisation and training will be extended to Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
PIDA Job Creation Toolkit
Another important tool is the PIDA Job Creation Toolkit, developed with support from the German Government through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The Toolkit is designed as an on-line platform that enables users to estimate the job creation potential of PIDA and other African infrastructure projects. It allows users to explore ways in which to capitalise on Africa’s demographic dividend and opportunities for wider regional economic development through job creation in infrastructure.
The Toolkit provides a scalable process enabling Project Owners to estimate job creation resulting from African infrastructure projects, especially the larger transboundary PIDA Projects. As part of beta testing, a training workshop was held in the second quarter of 2018 and estimates were developed for an initial set of PIDA projects. The workshop included a partners’ meeting in which recommendations on use cases and business models for the Toolkit were discussed. A soft launch of the PIDA Job Creation Toolkit was held during PIDA Week 2018 in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Following the successful completion of development and testing of the PIDA Job Creation Toolkit, the inaugural PIDA Jobs Outlook will be released in the third quarter of 2019. The Outlook will feature jobs estimates from selected projects in the PIDA portfolio. This inaugural edition will profile all Member States of the African Union with information on PIDA projects that are implemented in their countries or of which they are a direct beneficiary.
The Outlook is a tangible demonstration of the Toolkit which allows users to explore ways in which to maximise job creation from infrastructure projects. As an example, analysis of the Batoka Gorge Hydro Project shows that it has the potential to create more than 2500 direct and induced jobs annually up to completion of its construction and up to 24,000 secondary jobs annually over its 50-year lifetime.
Most recently, the Toolkit was presented to SADC stakeholders during the VPic Data Collection and Validation workshop where it generated a lot of interest, including a recommendation to feature the Toolkit during the SADC Industrialisation Week in August. Ultimately, the SADC Secretariat aims to have the Toolkit endorsed and adopted by SADC ministers responsible for infrastructure as an integral part of SADC’s infrastructure project planning processes. AUDA-NEPAD will, going forward, undertake capacity building on the Toolkit for all the Regional Economic Communities.
Users of the above tools include technical experts based at Africa’s regional levels, users from the African Union Member States, as well as project owners, specialised institutions, technical partners, policymakers, development partners, and both public and private providers of project preparation support and finance. The information gathered from VPic and the Job Creation Toolkit is disseminated through publication of the annual PIDA Report.
Through these tools and capacity development initiatives, AUDA-NEPAD is contributing to significantly changing the manner in which Africa reports, analyses and uses its data for policy and decision-making. The Agency is encouraging its stakeholders to place a premium on African ownership, leadership, verification and reporting.