FEATURE: We need annual national infrastructure statement

With a proper AIS, pipe dreams can definitely become a reality in our lifetime. We could make our highways leading out of Harare's CBD look like the above - Pic from www.linkedin.com

With a proper AIS, pipe dreams can definitely become a reality in our lifetime. We could make our highways leading out of Harare’s CBD look like the above – Pic from www.linkedin.com

Phinias Tafa Infrastructure Report
The need for robust infrastructure has been made all the more important by the desire to mitigate the ravages of climate change in the form of droughts, floods, heat waves and excessive winters.

Given the new phenomenon of unreliable rainfall patterns, water security has become critical to the future of the country and its farming sector, for long a pillar of the country’s economy and social development.

Thus we need a viable infrastructure plan that guarantees water security. An Annual Infrastructure Statement (AIS) is defined as a yearly address to the nation by the Minister of Infrastructure on the current state of a country’s capital systems and facilities.

It is also a vehicle for the minister to summarise the accomplishments of his/her infrastructure programme of Government both for a particular year and until the end of set long-term infrastructure plans.

This important event should not be limited to your term only but it must be a permanent feature on the state’s calendar. In fact given the critical nature of public infrastructure, it must be a requirement of Parliament that an AIS is delivered in the august house by the responsible minister. Parliamentarians will then be allowed to debate on the provisions thereof. The delivered provisions will then ensure that the citizens of Zimbabwe, whose tax is used to fund the bulk of the public infrastructure expenditure, are kept informed with regards to the country’s capital developments.

Harare-Chitungwiza highway could fly out of the capital thereby easing congestion. - Pic from www.hindustantimes.com

Harare-Chitungwiza highway could fly out of the capital thereby easing congestion. – Pic from www.hindustantimes.com

It is also a tool through which people will be able to hold Government accountable for progress on infrastructure developments in general and certain major projects in particular.

Everyone knows that public infrastructure must be built in the interest of the public, hence the requirement for accountability cannot be debated.

Again by bringing proper planning and management, an AIS helps to ensure that public projects remain on schedule and on budget.

Proper planning also reduces the prevalence of corrupt activities. This will assist the country realise its vision of building a productive infrastructure network capable of making our economy vibrant and productive, and in a way reduce threats of internal strife to prolong the peace this country has enjoyed this far. We want infrastructure that supports innovation in business and assist Zimbabweans and its visitors arrive at their destinations quicker, easier and safely. Given the fact that the future of Zimbabwe’s public infrastructure is trapped in a gridlock that can only be unlocked by an integrated multi-sector broader vision, several people including economist Musewe (2014) have highlighted the following actions in need of urgent attention:·

Meanwhile Harare's CBD gets congested each time rains pound the capital as is the case in the above picture taken December 20, 2015 - Pic from The Sunday Mail

Meanwhile Harare’s CBD gets congested each time rains pound the capital as is the case in the above picture taken December 20, 2015 – Pic from The Sunday Mail

Power: Full rehabilitation of the national power grid and continuous addition of new generation capacity required to sustain strong economic growth and domestic requirements;·

Roads: Rehabilitation of a large part of the national road network which include dualisation, resurfacing and resealing plus development of new networks to service non accessible region

Railways: Rehabilitation of the railways network and restructuring of the industry through the creation of a new public entity that would own, maintain, and manage the basic track infrastructure, the restructuring of the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) into a commercial railways services company and the award of concessions for freight and passenger services on the entire rail network;·Civil aviation: Improve the country’s air traffic communications and safety to a standard consistent with the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and the rehabilitation and upgrading of our airports to enhance our industry and tourism sector

Water: Substantial investment in treatment, storage and transport of water to meet increased agricultural, commercial and domestic demand.

Sanitation: Rehabilitation of the existing sanitation infrastructure and development of new networks plus improvement of services in urban and rural areas to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the sector are met in set time;·

ICT: Development of a national communications grid for ICT based on a fibre optic network linked to the submarine cables now in place along the eastern seaboard of Africa. The grid would lay the foundations for a major expansion in access to reliable communications at reasonable cost for a majority of Zimbabweans, the business community, government and civil society.

Institutional and regulatory reforms: A substantial programme of institutional reform and strengthening that includes measures to streamline the regulation of basic infrastructure services, promote private investment in infrastructure assets and services, as well as training and other capacity building measures to expand the skills required within the public sector for continued effective oversight and management of Zimbabwean infrastructure.

In our quest to attain the above broad goals, your ministry can employ an AIS to achieve the following:-

Reform our infrastructure investment and management policies and decision-making processes to ensure infrastructure decisions are based on scientific expert advice that result in greatest social and economic dividends.

Outline Government’s reform agenda, focusing on improving planning, intelligent project selection, delivery, evaluation practices, viable financing mechanisms, efficient use of existing assets and investigating the wider use of equitable user charges.

Whilst the National Budget delivers the foundations to support a strong economy underpinning vibrant business processes, an AIS breaks down the building blocks of the country’s infrastructure, sector by sector, region by region, programme by programme and project by project in a balanced and non-discriminatory manner.

Given that Minister Chinamasa and his national wallet do not have a magic pudding of funds, to quote Warren Truss, Australian Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Infrastructure and Regional Development, a robust AIS will help use the little resources in the best possible manner.

It will also help mobilise more monies through the creation of innovative models on the background of transparency, accountability and public scrutiny created by AIS, the backbone of public-private partnerships (PPPs).

It also acts as a measure of how sensitive the Government is to the environment in terms of reducing pollution levels in our cities and reducing levels of carbon emissions. This can be assessed by the amounting of funding allocated to private transport systems versus public transport systems.

Identify top priorities for investment and reform.

Operationalise long term rolling infrastructure plans, spanning 15 or 20 or even 40 years in a manner that smooth out boom/bust cycles common with all infrastructure delivery.

In the absence of an Infrastructure Commission, an AIS will link other infrastructure entities like ministries, local authorities, state enterprises and private sector.

Inclusivity that will result in an output pinned on broad-based independent and evidence-based debate.

Show status of each project like projects under planning, under construction or completed.

  • Phinias Tafa is an infrastructure development consultant, and his focus lies more in public infrastructure. He is the Head Consultant of the African Centre For Real Estate and Land Economics (ACRELE). [email protected] or skype phin.tafa
Pin It