Monday, July 15, 2024

We should not blink on infrastructure development

When it comes to huge capital infrastructural developments, there is no doubt that over the recent past as a country, we have paid very dearly in cost overruns, delays and poor implementation.

On account of lax supervision from government as a client and indeed consultants as project managers, contractors have often capitalized by way of multiple invoicing, not adhering to specifications and in some cases outright fraud.

This has meant that schools were constructed with substandard materials.

We still are spending money on a power station that was supposed to have been working years back.

And doubt persists on the quality of building material used in some of our road projects that are still under construction.
Notwithstanding all the above, we want to point out that on balance, Botswana has invested quite handsomely in infrastructure when compared to other African countries.

This alone has contributed significantly towards unlocking the country’s economic potential.

We are of the view that we should not be discouraged by what we went through.

Rather we should learn from the many mistakes we have made and use lessons learnt to strengthen our resolve and preparedness to forge ahead with more such projects.

The IMF and World Bank estimate that close to 60 percent of Africa’s development potential remains locked in underdeveloped and underinvested physical infrastructure.

It is estimated that with more investments, Africa would catapult its potential and become more integrated in the global trade networks.

We cannot agree more.

Travelling across Africa, one cannot help but admire how far ahead Botswana is in terms of infrastructure developments such as roads, water, energy and schools.

That is indeed reassuring and gratifying.

Too many African countries have terribly underinvested on projects that are absolutely necessary for economic growth.
Catching up is going to be a mammoth task for many such countries.

While Botswana has indeed forged far ahead of many other African countries, we still fall far behind such places like the Middle East, parts of Asia and such countries like UAE which used their natural resources to build infrastructure networks that would make many countries of the West go red with envy.

We call on our authorities to continue investing in capital projects ÔÇô this time at much more efficient rates.

With proceeds from diamonds set to significantly decline over the next decade to two, it is important that where expenditure priorities allow, projects that will become crucial in the coming decades on the back of growing demographic patterns should be brought forward to avoid future shocks and stresses on the national budget.

What is important is that in carrying out such projects, we go out of our way to reduce incidents of corruption, inefficiencies and outright poor planning that have marred such projects like the airports, stadiums and most recently a power station.

By investing in such projects well ahead of schedule we will not only being economic by way of cutting costs but also building a safety net through which we would almost guarantee future economic growths which as experts continue to point out rest so heavily on infrastructural development.

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