Assessment of project preparation facilities in Africa

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Client Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA)
Dates 2012
Sector(s)International Infrastructure
Service(s)Review & Evaluation, Strategy & Finance

The Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA), established in 2005, is a platform for donors to cooperate and coordinate efforts to support national and regional infrastructure development in Africa. Its members include the G8, World Bank Group, African Development Bank Group (AfDB), European Commission (EC), European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). Other development partners – including development finance institutions and private sector – are also invited to participate in ICA meetings.

In 2011, during the French G20 Presidency, it was agreed that the ICA would expand from a G8 platform to a G20 platform – in order to bring major infrastructure investors together around a common agenda of infrastructure development on the African continent. The G20, following a review by its High Level Panel (HLP) on infrastructure in 2011, wished to strengthen the support provided to project preparation for infrastructure in Africa. At the time, it was estimated that there were over 60 project preparation facilities (PPFs) serving the continent, although the HLP identified a critical need to improve the effectiveness of PPFs – and potentially through consolidation.

In line with this, the G20 – in consultation with the Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) Working Group on Infrastructure – requested that the ICA commission an assessment of existing project preparation facilities in Africa, which would build on a stocktaking exercise previously completed by CEPA (the ICA Project Preparation User Guide). The ICA commissioned CEPA to conduct this assessment, which included providing a performance review of individual PPFs and making recommendations for coordinating and restructuring the different facilities. 

Initially, building on work previously conducted by ICA, CEPA identified up to 67 potential sources of funding for project preparation – including national public-private partnership (PPP) units. However, more detailed analysis conducted over the course of the project, revealed a core group of 17 project preparation facilities – of which 12 were operational at the time of the assignment. These facilities supported a range of public and PPP projects. CEPA also identified other potential sources of infrastructure project preparation funding including donor programmes, technical assistance programmes, credit advance facilities and bilateral trust funds.

CEPA assessed the infrastructure project preparation landscape in Africa and the role of PPFs within this. Detailed surveys were sent to the individual PPFs and consultations were held to assess each facility against a range of parameters, and on as comparable a basis as possible. Further, while the main focus of the assignment was to explore the efficiency of existing PPFs, the assignment also considered wider strategic issues raised by MDBs hosting PPFs such as the need to streamline procurement policies and the option to allow for regional IDA allocations to be used for project preparation purposes.

Ultimately, the analysis identified several issues relating to specific PPFs that needed to be addressed going forward; in addition to providing a strategic perspective on the distinctive role of individual PPFs in addressing Africa’s project preparation challenge. The exercise revealed that despite project preparation funding being relatively limited in absolute terms, the nature of PPFs’ grant funding results in them having a much higher degree of flexibility than other sources of project preparation funding. Further, to be more efficient and effective, there should be much more coordination among PPFs, their hosting institutions, and the wider donor architecture going forwards.

Throughout the assignment, the CEPA team was active in presenting the assessment’s results in a number of high-profile donor fora – including presenting at the ICA Annual General Meeting, as well as the CEPA results being presented at the G20 Development Working Group in Bali, Indonesia. The Final Report was published in February 2013.