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Electrification to Reduce Poverty in AfricaLack of infrastructure in Africa has continued to perpetuate its impoverished state. Poverty in Africa is caused by dozens of factors which contribute to intergenerational poverty, but a key issue is access to electricity. Although access to electricity has advanced, there are still many more improvements to be made.

In Africa, access to electricity has been a serious challenge. Two out of three people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity. In total, there are over 600 million Africans without connection to an electrical network. Reports from the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Africa Outlook state that on average, electricity consumption per capita is not even enough to power a 50-watt light bulb continuously.

Even with electricity, reliability is low. Twenty-five of the 54 countries in Africa report frequent power crises including outages, irregular supply and high electricity costs. This creates numerous problems and constraints for individuals and businesses.

Investments in Africa’s electrification offer many benefits beyond the important direct job creation in energy infrastructure. Evidence suggests that household electrification also increases job opportunities due to its ability to allow people more working time, and enables the growth of rural micro-entrepreneurship. Improvements appear to be underway, with a variety of recent initiatives aimed at investment in electrification.

Africa’s demand for electricity is also growing. With a current growth rate of 6 percent per year, it will likely exceed GDP growth until 2040. This has sparked private investment and stimulated more diversified project financing. As a result, sub-Saharan Africa has seen power generation increase by 21 percent, with Chinese contractors accounting for 30 percent of this growth, to reach 115 gigawatts between 2010 and 2015.

Investment interest in Africa’s electrification has continued to increase since 2011. Of the 38 sectors reported in the Financial Times fDi Markets database, which monitors investment projects, capital investment and job creation, the alternative/renewable energy sector was the third most attractive for companies who invested in Africa in 2015 and 2016.

One major investment highlight was the $21 billion for new projects, many of which focus on renewable sources of energy. Investment trends in the renewable energy sector continue to be especially impressive, further combating poverty in Africa. Ethiopia has been seen as a leader in clean energy infrastructure, having generated the bulk of its energy needs from hydropower and other investments in geothermal, solar and wind. Its recent creation of the Ashegoda wind farm has the capacity of generating 120MW.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the development of the Grand Inga Dam has the potential to generate 40,000MW of electricity. Both of these provide Africans with not only more access to electricity but also ways make it more affordable.

Improving access to electricity is essential to decreasing poverty in Africa. It provides households and businesses with a tool for successful operation. There have been great strides in solving this problem in Africa, yet much work still needs to be done. Estimates from the World Bank concluded that 93 percent of Africa’s economically viable hydropower potential remains unexploited.

Persistent challenges need to be addressed by the government. A Greenpeace South Africa report found that two main challenges are changing misconceptions about renewable energy’s capabilities and developing the political will to invest in clean energy infrastructure. There is no doubt that through the electrification of Africa, many new opportunities for its countries will be brought to light.

– Ashley Quigley

Photo: Flickr

infrastructure in CroatiaCroatia officially became part of the European Union on July 1, 2013. With membership in the European Union came an increase in access to funds and European Union-backed financing. These funds, along with outside funding from institutions such as The World Bank, are helping to make the much-needed expansion of infrastructure in Croatia possible. Below are five examples of ways that infrastructure in Croatia is expanding.

The Building of the Pelješac Bridge

One of the largest infrastructure projects in Croatia is the building of the Pelješac Bridge. This bridge will connect southern Croatia and Dubrovnik, as well as some access roads. On January 12, 2018, it was announced that the bridge will be constructed by a Chinese consortium led by the Chinese Road and Bridge Corporation. The building of this bridge has been long awaited in Croatia, and this decision signals the beginning of what will become one of Croatia’s largest infrastructure expansion projects in recent years.

The Opening of a New Terminal at Zagreb International Airport

A new terminal was opened at Zagreb International Airport on March 22, 2017. The terminal cost $450 million, and was built by a consortium supported by the International Finance Corporation. Up to this point, the construction of this terminal was the largest infrastructure project that had occurred in Croatia in the last 10 years. This terminal is 65,000 square meters, and more than doubled the airport’s capacity, increasing it from two million to five million passengers per year. The hope is that this new terminal will allow for increased tourism in Croatia, which will ultimately improve the nation’s economy.

Reconstruction of the Croatian Road Network

There is currently a Modernization and Restructuring of the Roads Sector Project underway in Croatia. On April 28, 2017, the World Bank’s board of directors approved a $23.32 million loan to aid Croatia in this project. The road network in Croatia carries more than 75 percent of transport demands in the country, so the reconstruction and expansion of the road network will strengthen the effectiveness of this vital sector of infrastructure in Croatia.

Railway Construction

The Croatian railway network has been largely ignored in recent years, but that is beginning to change. The reconstruction of the railway that connects Dugo Selo to Križevci is underway. The 38-kilometer line is undergoing extensive reconstruction, and a second track is being added to it as well. This project is being largely funded by the European Regional Development Fund, and is expected to be completed by 2020.

Clean Water Project

Clean water will be more readily available to thousands in northern Croatia thanks to a project directed at improving infrastructure for water management and treatment. This project will cost €64.3 million, and is being funded by the European Union. In a press release on November 29, 2017, commissioner for regional policy Corina Cretu said, “Croatian households now have access to clean water thanks to our investment – this is a practical example of the value added by the European Union which cares about the environment and health of its citizens.”

The above projects are just a handful of the infrastructure projects that Croatia has undertaken since becoming an official member of the United Nations in 2013. These, along with the numerous other improvements being made to infrastructure in Croatia, are helping to expand economic opportunities in the country and improve the overall quality of living for the citizens of Croatia.

– Nicole Stout

Photo: Flickr

infrastructure in SurinameInfrastructure in Suriname is on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to quality, with some facets being up to date and self-sufficient, while others have fallen into serious disrepair due to improper maintenance and oversight. Suriname is sparsely populated in most areas, with most of its people inhabiting the capital, Paramaribo, and the surrounding regions. Most of the country is heavily forested making habitation and transport impossible.

Paramaribo is the country’s main hub with a vast majority of infrastructure in Suriname focused in this one city. Roads, railways, bridges, imports, and exports are all centered in Paramaribo making it the main support for Suriname’s economy. This translated to economic instability with little to no possibility of growth. Unless infrastructure in Suriname is expanded to the outer regions of the country and thence to its neighbors, it will continue to deteriorate and threaten an economic collapse.

Water, railway, and flight are the main modes of travel and transporting goods across the forested areas of Suriname. Unfortunately, many of the roads and airport runways are unpaved, making the operational expenses a fiscal nightmare. According to the 2013 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, the quality of Suriname’s roads ranks 71st out of 148 countries, while the airports and railroads rank 104th and 108th, respectively.

Infrastructure in Suriname is constrained by several factors:

  • electricity tariffs
  • transportation costs, and
  • monopolization of telecommunications by Telesur, a state-owned company.

Despite this monopolization, however, service and access to telecommunication services are far more advanced than all other aspects of the country’s infrastructure, ranking 7th in the 2013 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report. These last few years have seen a rise in government plans for developing infrastructure in Suriname, all focused on increasing the country’s status as an economic competitor. Telecommunication networks are being opened to the private sector, allowing for more competitors and lower rates.

The government’s main concern is developing the Paramaribo port (as the country’s largest) to increase its capacity to handle more exports. This port currently handles from five to six hundred vessels. Exports include 40 percent of the country’s oil (taken from the Tambaradjo oil field), gold, bauxite, rice and tropical wood from its forests.

Investment from the public and private sectors have enabled the development of the physical structure of the ports in Suriname, along with modernization of cargo holds and storage. This not only allows for easier transport but ensures greater protection of goods.

– Kayla Rafkin

Photo: Flickr

The Link Between Sanitation and MalnutritionWorldwide, about 844 million people live without access to clean water and about 2.3 billion people lack adequate sanitation, according to WaterAid. Along with the lack of clean water access, about 155 million people worldwide experience stunting caused by acute malnutrition.

WaterAid has recognized the importance of tackling water, sanitation and health (WASH) deprivation as a tool to end chronic malnutrition. It believes that by addressing the link between sanitation and malnutrition, malnutrition will decrease in proactive countries. According to WaterAid, nearly half of all malnutrition cases are caused by WASH conflicts.

WaterAid argues that an array of diseases contribute to malnutrition, all of which are associated with a lack of clean water, sanitation and hygiene. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), those diseases include diarrhea, intestinal nematodes, trachoma, schistosomiasis and others, all of which are preventable.

According to the WHO’s report, about 50 percent of all childhood malnutrition is caused by chronic diarrhea and infectious intestinal nematodes. This results in about 860,000 children under the age of five dying each year from malnutrition directly caused by clean water, sanitation and hygiene conflicts.

“The truth is that food alone will never be enough to tackle the problem, we have to target its underlying causes too,” said Megan Wilson-Jones, WaterAid’s policy analyst on health and hygiene. “Clean water, adequate sanitation and good hygiene are also vital ingredients for good health.”

WaterAid released a “Recipe for Success” that urges governments and organizations to:

  • Implement WASH and nutrition plans in local governments
  • Increase the amount of government funding for WASH-oriented programs
  • Focus first on mothers and babies, who are most affected by sanitation and malnutrition
  • Target areas within countries (such as rural areas) that show high numbers of malnutrition
  • Promote nutritious foods and daily hand hygiene
  • Create sustainable WASH programs by educating health workers, teachers and parents on proper hygiene and nutrition

One country that illustrates the link between sanitation and malnutrition is Paraguay. According to WaterAid, access to clean water in Paraguay’s rural areas increased by about 43 percent from 2000 to 2015, causing WaterAid to declare it the most improved country. According to The Guardian, the reason for Paraguay’s success was because of the government’s improved efficiency. The sanitation and water agency was placed within the department of health, making the issue a much higher priority. This, along with many more steps taken by the government toward becoming more sustainable and efficient, is what helped Paraguay achieve success.

The results in Paraguay can be seen in the World Bank’s DataBank statistics:

  • Percentage of population with access to sanitation
    1990: 87 percent
    2015: 96 percent
  • Percentage with access to clean water
    1990: 93 percent
    2015: 99 percent
  • Percentage affected by malnutrition
    1990: 18 percent
    2012: 11 percent

By looking at Paraguay’s statistics, WaterAid’s assertion of the link between sanitation and malnutrition can be confidently supported.

WaterAid continues to voice its concern for WASH to eliminate worldwide malnutrition, but success cannot be achieved without governments also recognizing the link between sanitation and malnutrition as well as providing efficient and sustainable programs.

– Austin Stoltzfus

Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Agriculture in Guinea-BissauGuinea-Bissau, a former colony disputed by Portugal, France and Great Britain, is located on the west coast of Africa. The country is bordered by Senegal and The Gambia and is a mostly low-lying country. Its economy relies largely on agriculture, yet much of the land remains uncultivated due to unsustainable practices and unstable political conditions. Because of this, sustainable agriculture in Guinea-Bissau is more vital than ever.[hr_invisible]

Background and Past Issues

The economy of Guinea-Bissau is mostly agricultural but also includes forestry and fishing. Guinea-Bissau produces its own food, and farming is largely based on local subsistence. Some of the most common crops grown in the country are rice, vegetables, beans, cassava, peanuts, potatoes and palm oil. They also raise livestock and catch fish and shrimp, which are used locally as well as exported.

Due to the vast subsistence farming and importing, crop failure and rising prices can be devastating to the population. Guinea-Bissau was hit hard by the global food crisis in 2008 when they could not afford international prices and lacked the resources to keep up with food production. The country has also been affected by the practice of slash-and-burn agriculture, which causes soil fertility to decline. Lastly, a lack of resources has allowed much of the fertile land in Guinea-Bissau to go uncultivated.[hr_invisible]

Finding Solutions

Sustainable agriculture in Guinea-Bissau has become vital to solving these problems. In a direct response to the crisis in 2008, the revitalization of agriculture and specifically rice production became priorities. Several regions within the country have suitable land for rice production, yet these lands were uncultivated and caused citizens within these regions to fall into poverty, as they are isolated from other areas of food production.

With new sustainable practices, rice production has now doubled in these areas. The European Union has also created a financing program to rehabilitate 300 kilometers of road in the area, allowing for a more efficient transport of goods. More sustainable practices and projects like these are also vital to combating climate change, a problem the country has been facing the effects of for years.[hr_invisible]

Future Projects

Guinea-Bissau has also turned to cashew nuts to enhance production. In 2013, cashew nuts accounted for 87.7 percent of the country’s total exports. The industry has been increasing since the late 1990s, and now 85 percent of people living in rural areas depend on these orchards in some way for their livelihoods. This has allowed for great economic improvement, yet the lack of biodiversity involved with this monocultural practice leaves citizens extremely vulnerable. If crops failed or were struck by disease, hundreds of thousands of citizens would be negatively affected.

The most important feature of sustainable agriculture in Guinea-Bissau is now education. Non-governmental organizations like Agrisud International are working with people within the country to promote and teach more sustainable practices. They have also been working with the country’s government to make these practices public policy. With the continued support of international organizations and the government, Guinea-Bissau’s agricultural practices will only continue to improve.

– Megan Burtis

Photo: Flickr

infrastructure in Timor-LesteTimor-Leste is a young nation facing many difficulties, but it is also a nation striving to advance itself daily. One of the areas in which the nation is making strides is in the development of its infrastructure.

On August 30, 1999, the people of current day Timor-Leste voted on whether they wanted to remain part of Indonesia or become an independent nation. Ultimately, 78.5 percent of voters voted for independence. During this time, violence broke out and approximately 70 percent of the infrastructure in Timor-Leste was destroyed.

The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste officially became a sovereign nation on May 20, 2002. Since then, the nation has been working to resolve the problems it faces. The damaged and underdeveloped infrastructure in Timor-Leste is one of the major challenges that the country has been working on in recent years.

The government of Timor-Leste created and released a strategic plan that it aims to complete by 2030, which it hopes will improve quality of life, health and education standards. Included in this plan is an entire section on developing the nation’s infrastructure. In this section, plans to improve roadways, bridges, waterways, sanitation techniques, electricity, seaports, airports and telecommunications are laid out.

Recently, the government of Timor-Leste opened the nation’s second airport, the Suai Airport, on June 20, 2017. The opening of this airport was included in the strategic development plan and is an example of one of the many ways the infrastructure of Timor-Leste is being improved upon.

In addition to the opening of the Suai Airport, there are future plans to upgrade Timor-Leste’s other airport, the Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport. This airport currently handles around 80,000 to 100,000 passengers each year, but after renovations are completed, the airport should be capable of handling up to one million passengers per year.

Another example of the infrastructural developments being made in Timor-Leste is the road expansion project that the country is undergoing. The World Bank is currently helping to fund Timor-Leste’s road expansion project. In April 2017, a $35.2 million credit was given to Timor-Leste from the World Bank to expand the nation’s transportation project.

This project will make roadways safer for travelers and increase travel opportunities between the northern and southern parts of the country. Having dependable roadways will aid Timor-Leste in developing other aspects of its infrastructure and lead to increased economic opportunity within the nation. These roadways will promote rural development and support the growth of healthcare and education in Timor-Leste.

The development of infrastructure in Timor-Leste is still ongoing, but advances can be seen. The opening of a second airport and the major transportation project are just two examples of the work being done on the infrastructure in the country. The government of Timor-Leste plans to continue to build on these advancements in hopes that a developed infrastructure will improve the standard of living for every one of its citizens.

– Nicole Stout

Photo: Flickr

infrastructure in MalawiMalawians have faced many obstacles to the growth and development of their country. Malawi has struggled with successful infrastructure development due to economic and natural disasters and currently has plans in effect to reduce poverty and increase urbanization for its people. Because of its rapid population growth, urbanization and infrastructure in Malawi are crucial for the nation’s survival and success.[hr_invisible]

Scandal

Malawi’s poverty rate has barely changed from 2010 to 2016, falling from 70.9 percent to 69.6 percent. In 2014, Malawi faced an economic scandal known as “cashgate” in which government officials were laundering millions from government reserves. The cashgate scandal caused many donors to withdraw their funding, which resulted in more detriment to the nation because 40 percent of Malawi’s wealth comes from independent donors. While it was very publicized, it was not the first time donors withdrew from the Malawian government due to the corruption within it. This kind of scandal has affected Malawians, as well as infrastructure in Malawi.

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Flood Crisis

Infrastructure in Malawi faced a large-scale flood in January 2016 which severely impacted the country’s development. The widespread flood wiped out several villages and much of the country’s agriculture. This has left Malawi in the largest food crisis in a decade. With a significant amount of damage to the country’s people and agriculture (part of country’s economic gains), the economy in Malawi has struggled to prioritize infrastructure development. Many solutions included providing short-term shelter for Malawians who had suffered from the disaster.

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Non-Agricultural Development

While efforts to reboot the economy and its agricultural efforts continue, Malawi cannot keep up with its steady population growth. Due to the increasing population, farms are shrinking and limiting economic productivity. As agricultural jobs decrease, infrastructure in Malawi leans toward the creation of non-agricultural jobs in education, finance, and energy. Malawi currently uses hydro-power, and due to climate change and sporadic rain, the country often experiences water shortages and blackouts. Creating more infrastructure, especially providing additional resources for electricity, will benefit Malawi and increase the economy. The plans to develop in the non-agricultural sector will speed up the urbanization process for Malawians.

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MGDS

The creation of jobs encourages the creation of infrastructure and vice versa. To combat the nation’s poverty, The Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) was created in 2006. The goal of the MGDS is to encourage continued economic growth and infrastructure in Malawi. The MGDS is meant to create long-term jobs for Malawians in mining, trade, and tourism and culture. Another goal is to encourage the use of the environment and natural resources. Utilization of Malawi’s culture and wildlife will increase tourism to create more economic growth. Creating jobs within Malawi’s government, such as in the health and safety sectors, will also provide more growth for the nation’s economy and help the people of Malawi to overcome poverty. In addition to practical job creation and tourism growth, the MGDS will consist of urban improvements such as in airports, more media/telecommunications sources, and housing developments.

While the recent history of Malawi has not been hopeful, the country’s prospects predict a brighter tomorrow for Malawians.

– Courtney Hambrecht

Photo: Flickr

Infrastructure in Sao Tome and PrincipeSao Tome and Principe, Africa’s smallest country in terms of geographical size, relies heavily on the production of cocoa, which has been steadily declining due to droughts and mismanagement. Despite the decrease in production, the economy has been growing at a rate of around 4 percent, but it is not enough to alleviate the country’s widespread poverty. An estimated 62 percent of the population lives in poverty.

About 100,000 people, almost half of the island nation’s population, live without electricity and one-third of the available roadways remain unpaved, which makes road travel difficult.

Investing in projects like paved roads and other areas encompassed by infrastructure in Sao Tome and Principe has the potential to jumpstart the alleviation of poverty across the country. Improving the country’s infrastructure opens up other doors for Sao Tome and Principe’s economy to grow and flourish. The World Bank and the government of Sao Tome and Principe are working together to introduce a multitude of reforms promoting growth in the financial sector and infrastructure.
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The Urban/Rural Divide

The urban/rural divide is often a driving force for inequality. As countries urbanize, many people move towards the cities and leave rural areas behind. The people left in rural areas often have trouble keeping up with the shift and fall into a pattern of poverty. This is the case for Sao Tome and Principe.

Infrastructure in Sao Tome and Principe is worst in rural areas, but many initiatives have been implemented to improve the infrastructure so that it is equal to urban areas. The African Development Bank Group, a development finance institution, has a goal to diversify rural infrastructure to keep up with Sao Tome and Principe’s growing agriculture strategy.
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Sao Tome and Principe’s Location

Oftentimes, poor developing countries fall into a poverty trap based on their geographical location. Many of the most impoverished countries in the world are landlocked. Sao Tome and Principe, being an island nation, is in a much better position to escape poverty than many other countries with a less fortunate geographic location. The islands are situated in a strategic location for international trade via waterways.

Sao Tome and Principe’s government is seeking international investors for the creation of a deepwater port. The government hopes that with the emergence of the deepwater port, Sao Tome and Principe will become an international shipping point connecting central Africa with the United States, Asia and Europe.
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The International Development Association

The International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank’s sector dedicated to helping the world’s poorest countries. Nearly 50 percent of the IDA’s funds go towards programs in Africa. Currently, in Sao Tome and Principe, the IDA is funding projects that total $22 million. The projects are currently focused on the country’s social support sector, advocating for equality for all citizens of Sao Tome and Principe.

Despite its size, infrastructure in Sao Tome and Principe has the potential to make the country a major player on the world’s stage. Continued development in this area can help the country improve living conditions for its most vulnerable citizens.

– Sonja Flancher

Photo: Flickr

infrastructure in SwazilandSwaziland is a small, middle-income country in southern Africa that was once heavily influenced by British and Dutch rule in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Since it was granted its freedom in 1968, the Swazi government has worked hard to create a stable and thriving community for its inhabitants, one of its main focuses being infrastructure in Swaziland.

Swaziland has a GDP of approximately $3.73 billion and a population of 1.1 million. It is estimated that 63 percent of the Swazi population lives under the poverty line and lives in areas that lack adequate access to basic needs, such as reliable roads and a constant food source. To address these issues surrounding citizen well-being, the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) drafted a Country Strategy Paper (CSP) for 2014 to 2018 that focuses on promoting economic growth and improved quality of life in Swaziland.

This document, while tenacious, hopes to address the country’s status as a lower-income country with moderate to high poverty and inequality rates. The board drafted two main goals in its legislature:

  1. Supporting Infrastructure Development for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth
  2. Strengthening Governance and Institutional Capacity

Within the first goal of the legislature, the board’s plan was to address infrastructure in Swaziland by improving the country’s amenities to match those of surrounding countries. This was meant to aid the integration of disadvantaged groups of society by giving them better access to opportunities coming from improved infrastructure. Since the CSP was drafted in 2014, there have already been progressive steps taken in addressing these issues.

First, in 2014, the Board of Executive Directors of the AfDB approved a $47 million loan to improve the quality of the Manzini-Mbadlane highway, a highly trafficked roadway. This job not only provided 250,000 Swazis with economic benefits regarding reduced travel cost and time, but it also provided a more stable route to and from South Africa, a popular tourist destination and stable trading partner.

Additionally, in May 2016, Swaziland received a $63 million loan in order to finance the second phase of the Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project in the southeastern part of the nation. This loan provided an opportunity for small, poorer farmers to use the natural resources provided by the Lower Usuthu River Basin to get involved with the commercial agriculture sub-sector, which is an excellent opportunity for both the underserved citizens of Swaziland as well as the country’s overall economy.

However, contrary to the active work being done to improve infrastructure in Swaziland, the country has not seen much development in terms of official action being taken to strengthen governance and institutional capacity. But, in recent years, the country’s lawmakers have drafted plans that focus on bettering healthcare and the decentralization of hospitals in Swaziland.

The Swaziland Ministry of Health National Health Sector Strategic Plan, which was drafted for 2014 to 2018, has outlined some key procedures surrounding the improvement of responsiveness, sustainability and creating a distinctive organizational culture within Swaziland’s healthcare sector. These plans will be funded by the World Bank and the European Union, and are being led by the Health Partners Southern Africa, which will be working with the Health Information Systems Program, the Institute for Health Measurement as well as the Strategic Development Consultants. The hope is that the goals stated in these drafts will come into effect in the next few years.

While there is still a long way to go in terms of improving infrastructure in Swaziland, the country’s lawmakers are working with their economic resources to find ways to better the lives of their country’s inhabitants. With loans and foreign support, the hope is that Swaziland will acquire the means to reach its goal of becoming a first world country.

– Alexandra Dennis

Photo: Flickr

infrastructure in Guinea-Bissau
Since the early 1980s, one of Guinea-Bissau’s main goals has been to develop and improve its fundamental facilities and services. Some of the needs for successful infrastructure in Guinea-Bissau include improvements to:

  • Transportation
  • Electricity Access
  • Telecommunications

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Transportation

With 2,734 miles of roads in Guinea-Bissau, only 10 percent are paved. This has attracted foreign aid in the form of sealing the main road to the northern border and constructing a major bridge at Joao Landin.

Guinea-Bissau has many rivers that can be accessed for coastal shipping, but the water transport needs major improvement. Bissau is the main port, and there have been plans for a European Union-sponsored deep-water port that will specialize in minerals and link to Guinea by rail.

Since the elimination of the privatized national airline, Guinea-Bissau has had to rely on foreign-owned carriers. The Guina-Bissau civil war that lasted from June 7, 1998, to May 10, 1999, severely disrupted flights and the main airport reopened in July 1999. In 2000, the country had about 29 airports but only three with paved runways.

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Electricity

Guinea-Bissau has one of the lowest electrification rates in Africa. This rate indicates the number of people with electricity access as a percentage of the total population. Electricity is not accessible to a large part of the population, mostly due to corruption and inefficiency. The country is completely dependent on petroleum products, despite its own high energy potential, especially in hydroelectric power.

 

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Telecommunications

The government of Guinea-Bissau announced its intention to liberalize the telecom industry, extend telecommunications to the whole country and introduce a cellular network. The internet access for the network would be provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In 1997, there were 8,000 telephones in the country, and in 2000, there was one internet service provider with about 1,500 internet users. As of July 2016, less than 1 per 100 people in Guinea-Bissau had a fixed phone line, but more than 70 percent of people had a mobile cell phone. The country now has five internet service providers and about 66,000 internet users.

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Rehabilitation Projects

The World Bank conducted various projects to improve the infrastructure of Guinea-Bissau. The goal of its Social and Infrastructure Relief Project (SIRP) was to improve job opportunities and financial status for low-income workers through the support of activities with high social and economic benefits. The bank committed $15 million to the project.

Results for the SIRP in Guinea Bissau were satisfactory. There continues to be a need for assistance in the development of more detailed procedures and in fully implementing the introduction of the accounting system.

The purpose of the bank’s Multi-Sector Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project (MIRP) was to improve the access to power, water and road infrastructure services. The World Bank committed $5 million to the project, but the results were not as successful as the SIRP.

Initially, the program leadership expected the private sector to participate and contribute to the energy and water sectors. However, the willingness of the private sector to get involved in a volatile political environment was overestimated and unrealistic. Additionally, there was an imbalance of supervision between project groups. 

With continued efforts to improve the infrastructure in Guinea-Bissau, the country is headed for advancement and progress.

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr