Recalibrating infrastructure strategy to build future infrastructure leaders
If the reports published by different bodies on Africa’s infrastructure financing requirements are anything to go by, there is a need for a paradigm shift in the continent’s infrastructure financing and development strategy
Over the last decade, the continent has invested heavily in new infrastructure while allocating meagre budgets for repairing and replacing overwhelmed and outmoded infrastructure. Simultaneously, there has been significant investment in building an elaborate public-private partnership (PPP) framework to leverage private sector resources and innovation. But, not much has been achieved through this. Over time, the focus of the related capacity building has been in the public sector. The private sector has been left out, and yet it is very critical for the success of the model. There is an eminent and urgent need to empower and incentivise the private sector to originate more innovative infrastructure solutions that are aligned to the strategic goals of the continent.
The Miundo Misingi Hub, is a centre for excellence in infrastructure financing and development based in Nairobi, Kenya. We’re spearheading a new approach to empower the private sector to work efficiently with governments in the near future by nurturing the next infrastructure leaders in Africa. The Hub is empowering a pool of private sector officials to scan the market and identify infrastructure gaps that can be efficiently filled by the private sector. In addition the Hub is equipping the sector with skills on how to efficiently structure innovative solutions that can be acceptable by the governments in the region. Through its Graduate Infrastructure Program, the Hub identifies and nurtures university and college graduates to be project finance and PPP experts. The program is delivered over a period of six months and takes graduates through a four-month practical training program, one-month mentorship and a one-month work placement where they have hands-on involvement in the structuring of infrastructure projects at the Hub.
Through these opportunities, Hub participants are able to be involved in the development of innovative infrastructure solutions that are replicable across many urban and rural areas in the East African region Importantly, the Hub’s program also contributes to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through youth engagement and by promoting social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and economic development in infrastructure development.
In meeting a need for infrastructure specialists on the continent, the Miundo Misingi Hub is addressing a critical skill gap in the market. There are very few institutions in the region that offer specialised and practical training in the infrastructure space at the undergraduate level. Alongside its core training, mentorship, and internship elements, the Hub is engaging with partners like the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, GRESB, the Global Infrastructure Hub, and APMG International to see that graduates go through training and certification in sustainability frameworks and that they are accorded the CP3P credential to support them in their future roles.
Ultimately, the vision of the Miundo Misingi Hub is to partner with governments in the region to build a critical mass of competent young infrastructure experts who can be assigned to infrastructure departments to lead the adoption of innovative and futuristic infrastructure solutions at the grassroot level. Alternatively, the graduates can be directly recommended for employment opportunities in the infrastructure sector on successful completion of the program.
Infrastructure needs in Africa are growing every day, as population growth and urbanisation sharply increases. There is also a global need for infrastructure that meets sustainability standards. Governments need to build local capacity to manage the increased and complex infrastructure needs of the continent in partnership with the private sector. Programs such as the Miundo Misingi Hub are important contributors to empowering the private sector and attracting investment in the region.