Infrastructure, key to poverty alleviation

By Richard High12 August 2008

The World Bank vice president for Africa, Obiageli Ezekwesili has described infrastructure as the key issue in the battle against poverty and the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Speaking at the Nigeria Infrastructure Summit (August, 6 - 8) in Abuja, Ms Ezekwesili said, "We all know why infrastructure is key to the battle against poverty and the realisation of the MDGs. For example, access to water explains some 25% and 37% respectively of infant and child mortality rate differences between rich and poor countries."

Ms Ezekwesili added that, while the exact amount of investment needed to bridge Nigeria's infrastructure gap is unknown, it far exceeds what the government budget could finance alone. The same, she said, was true of the subsequent maintenance costs required to keep the infrastructure working.

Speaking to local daily, This Day, Ms Ezekwesili said the government must consider the most effective way to spend crude oil revenues, without upsetting current relative macro-economic stability.

"There is a different way that you approach spending it that can take you on a smooth path. There is a way that you organize the spending and align it into certain key issues and sectors, and what you will get is maximum pay off," she said.

Ms Ezekwesili also called for government inter-departmental coordination to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of any spending. All government departments, she added, should agree a spending pattern that avoids causing rising inflation.

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