By Madelein Mkunu, President and CEO, Leading Women of Africa
For centuries, Africa has been characterised by poor and inadequate infrastructure. Inadequate infrastructure in Africa is a major obstacle to the Continent’s economic growth, and that affects the living standards of its people. Efficient infrastructure development is necessary if Africa’s economy is to be integrated and the benefits of economic growth need to be expanded throughout the continent.
In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in infrastructure development and policy reform in developing economies.
The apparent interest emanates principally from the growing realisation that human and physical infrastructure is a critical element for economic growth and poverty reduction.
African women’s fundamental contributions in their households, food production systems and national economies are increasingly acknowledged, within Africa and by the international community. This is due, in no small part, to African women’s own efforts to organise, articulate their concerns and make their voices heard. In recent times, more women have been involved in the mainstreaming economies of their respective countries, despite skills and financial limitations.
The presence of multiple women’s construction, engineering, and IT companies proudly led by women themselves prove that women of Africa are capable of playing a positive role in the process of contributing effectively in the development of Africa.
Awakening of Africa’s infrastructure development
Recently the African Development Bank has report the Africa’s quest for greater connectivity and improved intra-regional trade after the continent’s leaders agreed to increase public spending on infrastructure and set in motion a programme to create a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by 2017. The Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), a multi-billion dollar initiative that will run through 2040, has been endorsed by the African leaders early this year.
According to report, they resolved to increase public financing of infrastructure, implement major power projects such as hydroelectricity, oil refinery and gas pipelines, accelerate the construction of missing links and modernization of railways, and increase the capacity of ports.
The million dollar question women are asking themselves is to know if they will be integrated in such programme and how will they access reliable information? Again, women interests, views and full participation in the designing and planning of infrastructure development must be taken seriously by African governments. The presence of multiple women’s construction, engineering, and IT companies proudly led by women themselves prove that women of Africa are capable of playing a positive role on the development of the Continent.
Reaching the Millennium Development Goals through women
There an over growing confirmations that integrating women into the mainstream economy will contribute in achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Africa. Furthermore, involving women in the mainstream infrastructure projects mainly in the rural communities where women are playing a crucial role will make a positive impact on the empowerment of women and development of Africa.
Over the past few years, many recommendations have been planned for women empowerment, but there has been a lack of implementation. If all the existing commitments towards Africa are fully implemented, there should be no reason not to achieve the Millennium Goals in Africa, so the focus must now be on translating commitments into progress on the ground.
The issue of women empowerment has gained the attention of the world for the past 3 decades. International Institutions to our African Governments as well as private sector have all agreed of the importance women economic empowerment. Policy frameworks and regulations have been formulated.
Integrating gender perspectives into infrastructure development plans can make a positive impact on the empowerment of women.