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Exploring the Narrative of Africa’s “Infrastructure Gap”

The nature of the relationship between infrastructure and economic growth is already contested. Despite their tendency to produce a short term boom, there is evidence that big infrastructure investments can exacerbate economic fragility.  But such negative impacts are more than economic. While some internationally financed transport projects are very popular with many city-dwellers—such as the light rail in Addis Ababa, regardless of its other failings—others can generate widespread anger and various perverse local impacts. The reality is that the kinds of projects attracting big finance are rarely structured to benefit those who most urgently require infrastructure access. Since the financial crisis of 2007-09, such bodies have been looking for new kinds of asset to invest in. This has led to Africa’s infrastructure gap being increasingly framed as an investment opportunity.