Urban Dialogues May 25, 2022


Launch of paper series on financing infrastructure in Africa

Change must also materialize in infrastructure to occur. This is true for bike lanes to reduce car-related-emissions, as well as for wind turbines to generate clean energy and decrease pollution-related deaths..

As Africa is a rapidly urbanising continent, its cities require infrastructure to grow and thrive. Electricity is highly demanded and yet unreliable and expensive, transport is highly dependent on fossil-fuel and ICT infrastructure is more than ever crucial in a rapidly digitizing country and economy. Thus, sustainable, inclusive, and resilient infrastructure investments are key for Africa’s future pathway, the agenda 2063. And it is in Europe’s interest to strengthening its partnership with Africa and push investments in infrastructure forward. Infrastructure investments in Africa are not only important to support economic growth and development of the continent, but it is also key to foster global and sustainable change as many African countries are particularly vulnerable to climate change and current crises.


But how can we mobilize finance to support sustainable urban infrastructure in Africa?

Through an innovative knowledge co-production process in our research collaboration with the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at University of Cape Town, we have developed a series of six position papers that take an overview of infrastructure financing in Africa.

What are the reasons why financing electricity, information and communication technology (ICT), mobility is difficult? Can we mobilise finance to support sustainable urban infrastructure on the continent? How can we think infrastructure finance systemically and innovatively?

Identifying opportunities to break the deadlock and think systemically about risks and opportunities of infrastructure finance, the series aims to point the way towards mobilizing investment to support sustainable urban infrastructure in Africa with experts in the cross-section of urban development and finance.


The papers formed the basis of discussion at two roundtable events with representatives from multi-lateral financial institutions, development banks, and academic institutions. The aim is to further co-produced understanding of the opportunities to mainstream sustainable infrastructure into the portfolios and projects across the sector and to identify relevant measures to mobilise financing for urban development at all levels of government. 

Based on the exchanges in these discussions the positions papers have been finalised, and a synthesis paper draws together reflections on the process.