ALTHOUGH Africa has posted rapid economic growth over the past 15 years, a key barrier that hampers trade and investment in Africa is poor infrastructure, which is a strategic objective that governments are addressing to achieve sustained growth.
High transport costs due to poor regional road and rail networks remains a key factor in limiting the movement of goods within the continent. But African governments are ramping up investments in the sector - in 2014, Ghana, Zambia, Ethiopia and Kenya were among countries that issued sovereign bonds to fund infrastructure.
Infrastructure is such a prominent issue in the public debate, prompting renowned technology and infrastructure leader General Electric (GE) to sponsor the Energy & Infrastructure Category of the CNN Multichoice African Journalist awards last year. The choice of this category is not far-fetched.
“As a leading Energy & Infrastructure Company in Africa, we recognise the huge impact energy and infrastructure can play in Africa’s development and will continue to support all efforts that bring the critical issues of energy and infrastructure to the fore,” says Patricia Obozuwa, director of communications for GE Africa.
In 2014 when the new category was introduced, there were entries from 38 countries around Africa. GE wants to see even more entries in the years to come because energy and infrastructure remain at the core of Africa’s development.
The continent’s energy deficit is huge - more than half of the population of sub Saharan Africa has no access to electricity, and all of Africa’s fixed infrastructure - such as roads, bridges and modern buildings - is located in just four countries.
Governments also need to improve access to clean water, hospitals, clinics, and move freight through an efficient rail system, as populations grow and become more urbanised, and consumer demand rises.
“These are the dynamics that that will help build sustainable economies on the continent – and this is why GE is in Africa,” says Obozuwa.
In 2014, Joy Summers and Susan Comrie of Carte Blanche received the award for their investigative piece, “Game of Geysers part 1 and 2”, and this year, Paul Kalemba of The Standard won for his graphic piece “Sorting out Nairobi Transport.”
The CNN/Multichoice African Journalist Awards was established in August 1995 to encourage, promote and recognize excellence in African journalism and it has in the span of 20 years become the most respected journalism awards in the region.
Every year, over 1,600 entries in twelve categories are received from over 40 African countries, including English, French & Portuguese-speaking countries and the Awards ceremony is broadcast across Africa via DSTV platforms, 66 terrestrial channels in 47 African countries. As a mark of wide acceptance and spreading influence, the awards have attracted sponsorship from global brands, including from companies like GE.
READ MORE AT: GE Reports Sub-Saharan Africa.