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BRICS development bank would help Africa get much-needed infrastructure development and funding, according to Patrick Dlamini, CEO of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).

Durban this week hosts the fifth Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit and South Africa has high hopes for the formation of a development bank that would invest in African and emerging economies and infrastructure.

Speaking at the Pan African Capacity Building Programme study tour in Johannesburg for master’s students of public infrastructure management from around the continent, Mr Dlamini painted a rosy picture for the future of sub-Saharan African economies.

In depth: Brics BricsNews, views, analysis and multimedia coverage of the Brics nations and their annual summit in Durban.

“By 2050, it is estimated that Africa will have built 1,000 new cities,” he said. “One can already look at places such as Mozambique and Rwanda and see something completely different from what was there before.”

Mr Dlamini said African leaders had to focus on imparting skills and developing infrastructure if the region were to capitalise on having “the biggest and youngest workforce in the world” by 2030.

“That is why initiatives like these are important. How can we equip the young people of today so that they can lead by 2030?” he asked.

Mr Dlamini noted that sub-Saharan Africa’s collective gross domestic product (GDP) grew from $500bn in 1994 to $1.8-trillion in 2011, and estimated that by 2063, this figure would reach $12-trillion to nearly equal the current US GDP of more than $15-trillion.

However, he said poverty as well as gaps in education and infrastructure undermined the region’s growth prospects.

“The funding requirements of Africa are far too huge. We need more funding institutions, and a bank from the Brics block would be strategic and complement institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund,” he said.

Mr Dlamini said an internal review of the DBSA’s operations would be complete in four weeks. While job losses were possible, any such losses would be “nowhere near what has been reported”.

He said the DBSA was looking to double its loan book to “accomplish in five years what it previously took the bank 18 years to do”.

Prof Brian Figaji, chairman of the Pan African Capacity Building Programme, said African countries had to develop the means to make their infrastructure sustainable.

“There is a lot of infrastructure in Africa. Much of it can be found here in South Africa,” he said. “But we often cannot afford to maintain it. If you can’t maintain it, don’t build it.”

Article by Khulekani Magubane


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