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The Challenge:

Underdeveloped infrastructure in Africa is a key limiting factor to economic growth and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). By global comparison,water storage capacity is low. Irrigated agriculture accounts for less than 4% of potentially irrigable land and MDGs targets for water and sanitation access arecurrently off track. More than 550 million people are without access to electricity services and there is considerable disjuncture between regional supply and demand. However, there is considerable potential. For example, it isestimated that only 5.5% of available water resources have been developed[1],and less than 7% of Africa's hydropower potential has been exploited.

Key Commitments:

The Millennium Summit Declaration set MDG targets on access to drinking water, accompanied two years later by targets on sanitation set at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. The summit also generated country commitments to draw up and implement national Integrated Water Resource Management plans by 2005,as well as measures in sustainable energy production. International cooperation was boosted by the establishment of the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa in 2005, represented by key African institutions and donors who agreed to support national, but especially regional efforts ininfrastructural development. This was complemented by the EU-Africa Partnership on Infrastructure in 2007. International commitments in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) have been particularly developed through the two World Summits on Information Society (WSIS) held in Geneva and Tunis respectively. The sector was also recognized in the Millennium Declaration and the 2005 World Summit Outcome.

The G8 2002 Kananaskis Africa Action Plan pledged to support African efforts in water resource management, followed by the more substantial G8 water action plan agreed at Evian in 2003. In 2008 the Hokkaido Summit Leaders Declaration pledged to review progress by the next summit, as well assupport good water governance. At L'Aquila in 2009, the G8 reiterated previous commitments and pledged stronger partnership with Africa, and to support Africa’s commitments in the sector. Commitments on energy have focused on energy security, including the Gleneagles Climate Change Clean Energy and Sustainable Development statement and Plan of Action, the St. Petersburg Plan of Action on Global Energy Security, and the Heilingdamm Summit Declaration on Growth and Responsibility in the World Economy. The need for development in ICT was recognized in the 2004 Sea Island Science and Technology statement.

The African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW) was established at the 2002 Abuja Declaration on Water, setting out key actions on water. AMCOW has since launched a number of initiatives such as the 2004 Sirte Declaration on Agriculture and Water, where Africa Water Vision for 2025 was presented, and the eThikweni Declaration adopted by ministers at the AfricaSan summit in 2008, that called upon heads of state to allocate a minimum of 0.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for sanitation. The AU 2008 Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh adopted water and sanitation as its theme, where heads of state committed to raise the profile of sanitation, develop national water management policies to reach the MDGs and significantly increase domestic financial resources for their implementation.

African strategies for energy and transport are detailed in the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) founding statement and Infrastructure programme. Progress has further continued at the ministerial level, such as the Cairo Declaration on hydrocarbons, the Accra Conference on Financing for Development: Infrastructure for Growth, the Energy Challenge and the Declaration of the African Ministers responsible for Transport and Infrastructure onTransport and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs ), endorsed by Heads of State at Sirte, 2005. A series of energy and transport commitments provided a key focus at the 2009 12th AU Assembly. Key Ministerial commitments in the area of ICT were established at ECOSOC 2007 and the ConnectA frica Summit in Kigali the same year.


[1] FAO AQUASTAT Survey 2005