By Vincent Chin, Boston Consulting Group’s Senior Partner and MD of South East Asian businesses and operations
“Show me the money”– the famous mantra of Jerry Maguire seems to be all too familiar to the African infrastructure industry.
Like Jerry, many leaders keep talking about the money problem when they should be acting on the capability problem.
The availability of capital is not the fundamental challenge facing Africa’s infrastructure sectors, but a lack of public sector capabilities to support and develop large volumes of high quality transport, energy and water projects.
African public sector organisations need to channel their investment inward in order to step up their infrastructure project capabilities, which will allow owners of infrastructure assets to lower the risk of their projects and commit to long-term outcomes that the managers of private capital need to see.
At BCG, we see three key actions African infrastructure leaders should take today:
- Get Smarter: Prepare projects with the right DNA. Invest in the core public sector capabilities to select projects based on data. Nothing is more attractive to the private sector than a high-quality project backed by a capable partner.
- Get Faster: Digital, analytics and technology are changing the game. Public sectors need to use these advances to prepare project faster, deliver projects on schedule and to adapt to the future of mobility. Reaping the digital dividend can lead to a step-change in Africa’s public sector capabilities.
- Get Sharper: Unlock value from existing assets. Too much emphasis is put on new/greenfield projects. African public sectors must safeguard and improve the efficiency of existing assets to unlock trapped value. Better performing assets will also open new avenues for the private sector to participate in Africa’s infrastructure.
The one cannon of infrastructure in Africa is this: it is not about the money, but all about capabilities.
Jerry Maguire may not like that answer, but I have feeling that the 1.2 billion people of Africa and the managers of some $45 billion of capital raised for infrastructure in 2016 are waiting expectantly for solutions.
So let’s get smarter, faster and sharper today!