This review summarizes selected literature on gaps in infrastructure
services in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and on the barriers that
stand in the way of scaling up infrastructure. Castalia prepared the
review as an input to the Department for International Development’s
(DFID’s) Infrastructure Policy Framework.
The key documents reviewed were high profile publications from the World
Bank, Asian Development Bank, other international organizations, and
some private firms. Castalia also reviewed working papers and other
analytical publications from such agencies. Searches of databases of
peer-reviewed academic literature yielded only a few relevant papers.
Most data on service coverage and service gaps is from the World
Development Indicators database, which is widely cited in the
After a brief overview of how the literature has evolved (section 2),
section 3 summarizes the size of the infrastructure gaps, both in terms
of service levels and in financial terms.
In the first instance, the infrastructure gap appears to be the result
of a lack of financial resources for capital facilities, combined with
inadequate operation of facilities that do exist. Financial resources
are inadequate because user charges and government funding do not cover
the cost of providing services. Private finance is available, but is
only forthcoming where user charges plus government funding is
sufficient to cover full costs, and there is a risk-adjusted return on
capital, which is seldom the case. Section 4 examines the reasons for
the lack of cost recovery: user charges that are too low; government
funding that does not fill the gap; and capital and operating costs that
are too high.
Generally, infrastructure facilities have high upfront costs. Finance
from governments, or from private financiers, needs to cover these
costs. Section 5 reviews the barriers to both kinds of financing.
The economics of infrastructure leads to market failures, and a strong
rationale for government involvement. Government involvement, in turn,
brings a complex web of political challenges, from inadequate
accountability to outright corruption. The infrastructure sector
provides opportunities for corruption because contracts often are very
large, which can make corruption lucrative, and there are many
transaction layers, which increase the difficulty of achieving
transparency and accountability. The literature suggests that many of
the barriers to infrastructure have their roots in these political
challenges, as section 6 describes.
The remainder of the report focuses on specific topics of particular
relevance to DFID: serving the poor (section 7), providing regional
infrastructure (section 8), and providing infrastructure in
conflict-affected states (section 9). This is followed by a
Bibliography. Appendices provide detail on infrastructure gaps and a
Appendix D Glossary of terms.
This report has been produced by Castalia Strategic Advisors for
Evidence on Demand with the assistance of the UK Department for
International Development (DFID) contracted through the Climate,
Environment, Infrastructure and Livelihoods Professional Evidence and
Applied Knowledge Services (CEIL PEAKS) programme, jointly managed by
DAI (which incorporates HTSPE Limited) and IMC Worldwide Limited.
Castalia Strategic Advisors. Barriers to infrastructure service delivery in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Evidence on Demand, UK (2014) iv + 53 pp. [DOI: 10.12774/eod_cr.august2014.castalia]