According to the 2018 edition of the African Development Bank’s Infrastructure Development Index, infrastructure investments account for over half of Africa’s recent economic growth.
This growth is principally driven by improvements in information and communication technology. To fuel the most growth, however, infrastructure must be developed to facilitate connections not only within a country, but between a country and its region and beyond.
ARII uses two indicators to measure the extent to which Africa’s infrastructure is regionally integrated:
- The AfDB Infrastructure Development Index is a composite index of nine measures of the state of electricity, transport, information and communication technologies, and water and sanitation in an area. Indicators of a more regional nature – cross-border road connectivity, cross-border electrical infrastructure, the cost of mobile roaming – would be preferred, but comprehensive, reliable data on these elements is not presently available.
- At time of writing, 28 African countries had signed the Single African Air Transport Market, an initiative aiming at opening Africa’s skies. ARII does not use this variable because what matters most for integration is implementing, not signing, agreements like this one. Instead, the ARII measures countries’ proportion of intra-regional flight connections: that is, the number of a country’s flight connections to and from points within the region as a percentage of all intra-regional flight connections.
On infrastructural integration, Africa scores only 0.220 out of 1. Many countries score near zero and the infrastructure of a staggering 31 countries can be considered poorly integrated. Only 11 African countries have infrastructure that is moderately well integrated in their region.
Regional integration cannot happen without adequate infrastructure. In our highly technological world, strong economic links in trade, finance, production, and social development depend on well-designed, well-connected infrastructure. Strategies to address the infrastructure deficit should be implemented without delay.
South Africa is the continent’s most highly ranked country on the infrastructure dimension. It far outstrips the other most integrated countries. The next-strongest performers are Egypt, Seychelles, Morocco, and Tunisia.
South Africa is well connected by air. It has the best flight connections within the continent, giving its citizens and the citizens of the rest of African the possibility of moving somewhat efficiently across the continent. Morocco and Tunisia also enjoy good flight connections. The AfDB’s Infrastructure Development Index awards Seychelles top points for infrastructure. Seychelles is followed by Egypt.
South Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Chad, and Niger have the least integrated infrastructure on the continent: all score near zero. Somalia, South Sudan, Niger, and Chad also have the least developed infrastructure as measured by the AfDB’s Infrastructure Development Index. Eritrea’s weakness lies in its poor flight connections within the continent.
Countries’ Scores and Rankings on Infrastructural Integration
ARII uses a 95 percent confidence interval from the mean to identify countries’ performance as low, average, or high. Under linear conditions, a score below 0.333 is classified as low, a score between 0.334 and 0.667 is classified as average, and a score above 0.668 is classified as high.
In this graph, a country’s “All Africa” value refers to how well the country scores compared to all other African countries, not just compared to the other members of the regional economic community/ies to which the country belongs.