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Business News of Monday, 11 May 2015

Source: GNA

‘Infrastructure dev’t key to economic growth’

Mr Rockson Dogbegah, the Chairman of Berock Ventures Limited, has emphasized the need for sustainable infrastructure development, saying it is the nexus between urbanisation and economic growth.

Delivering the keynote address at a conference on sustainable infrastructure development, Mr Dogbegah said without infrastructure, Africa’s development potential would be of no use to its citizenry and the continent would continue lagging behind in the global marketplace.

He said successful delivery of well-planned infrastructure investments would offer an opportunity to compete in the global marketplace.

“Well-planned, modern, efficient and reliable infrastructure is a key driver of productivity and the fulcrum around which economic growth and development is certain,” he emphasised.

Mr Dogbegah, who spoke on the topic: “Sustainable Infrastructure Development: The Nexus between urbanisation and Economic growth,” said as much as the role of government as facilitator and enabler of development is indispensable, synergy and professionalism among built environment professionals and the development stakeholder community is equally not discountable.

He said in the face of developmental challenges, the pursuance of innovation, a sense of professionalism and a keen adherence to standards in all facets of development, especially in the construction industry, is inevitably the lifeblood of sustainable prosperity that could inject security and exact investors’ confidence in the 21st Century.

“It is this trio of values that will sustain the cranes in the skies, expand job offerings, translate into physical evidence of efficient infrastructure and to justify the new infrastructure development revolution in Africa,” he stressed.

In this direction, he said, Governments in Africa must demonstrate leadership, and in the case of Ghana, establish the Construction Industry Development Authority to sanitize the chaotic construction environment and to guarantee value for money.

On procurement, Mr Dogbegah said sustainable procurement practices were indispensable as an efficient way to deal with resource wastage, towards achieving value for money for every unit of money invested in infrastructure.

He said sustainable procurement standards have been found to be cost saving with positive externalities; and a necessary input for sustainable infrastructure development. “Although it may lead to higher direct purchasing costs, the overall lifetime cost of a sustainable infrastructure can be less than the overall lifetime costs of the up-front cheapest option. This is because the sustainable option can result in lower operating costs, maintenance and disposal costs,” he emphasised.

Thus, despite the higher initial purchasing costs, sustainable options can offer an important return on investment through reduced life-cycle cost.

Citing a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which found out that sustainable procurement, could result in overall cost savings for public organisations of around 1 per cent, Mr Dogbegah said such a reduction can be significant in absolute terms, given the large value of public procurement.

“The cost reduction could be larger for nations with a higher procurement-to-GDP ratio, such as those in Africa,” he added.

Touching on the delays in the delivery of infrastructure projects needed to match the growing demands of urbanization and economic growth, Mr Dogbegah said the challenges limit the ability to successfully complete and commission projects within estimated time and budget jurisdiction.

“The lags in project delivery have often led to significant construction cost escalations, prolonged duration and poor quality of workmanship,” he stressed.