Government is to develop an online portal to host all infrastructure projects by the end of 2018.
The platform, known as the ‘Project Bank’, will have all infrastructure projects that have been thoroughly assessed and are deemed to be financially and socially viable for implementation.
This will enable the government to properly coordinate infrastructure development in the country and reduce the number of projects that have stalled over time due to lack of funding. It will also help avoid duplication of projects.
The Senior Technical Advisor, Development Planning at the Ministry of Planning, Dr Kodjo Esseim Mensah-Abrampa, in an interview, said the ‘bank’ would be a transparent platform which the planning and programming divisions of the various ministries would have access to, to find out whether there were existing projects that could respond to their needs.
“What we are trying to do is to look at projects which have been proposed or selected by the various ministries and take them through thorough analysis. Through the analysis, we will be able to identify projects which are viable, which have been phased out properly and for which cash flows are positive and for which there is social support and we put them in a project bank,” he stated.
Why the ‘project bank’
It seeks to provide a sense of the infrastructural base of the country by clearly indicating the number of ongoing projects, those that have been completed and projects that have been developed and are yet to go through implementation.
“With this system, the issue of duplication is avoided and it will enhance coordination of projects to ensure they are timely, financially viable and people respond to its ability to meet their needs,” Dr Mensah -Abrampa said.
He explained that the current trend was to select the infrastructure projects, do the financial analysis and then begin implementation, which often had long-term implications.
“For many projects, we start and are not able to complete. We might have problems with the cash flow and, therefore, the project hits a snag. The people who the project is being done for do not appreciate the project and as a result you are unable to continue,” he said.
He, therefore, suggested that “The programme selection has to go through a thorough analysis to establish why it is feasible in the first place. You also have to analyse the cash flow streams in terms of revenue and expenditure such that if you are borrowing some money, you are very sure that one day you are going to recoup and recover the cost.”
The impact of the projects on communities, he explained, was very critical in terms of compensating people whose livelihoods would be affected by the projects.
Steps so far
Currently, the Ministry of Planning has begun a series of interactions with planning officers at the district level to provide information on existing infrastructure projects. It is also liaising with other ministries to collect enough information on projects.
The server to contain the list of the projects is also being developed.
“We are targeting the end of the year to have a model of some of these projects and we will continue to populate as we go on. Eventually, we will concentrate on the sectors which have the infrastructure and the projects. We will target and assess the projects and see how to get them as part of the bank,” he noted. Dr Mensah-Abrampa said information on ongoing projects would be put on the database while a detailed analysis would be done for new projects.
“For even completed projects, we would like to know whether the projects are there and they are serving the purpose for which it was put up,” he said.
He said one thing which was absent from planning of infrastructure projects was the inability to phase the implementation of projects to continue being viable even when governments changed over time.
“We are not able to phase our project in this country. When one political regime starts a project and another one comes, then a decision ought to be made as to whether it is going to continue or not; but some projects are such that you can phase it out.”
“Phase it within the four-year term such that even if the government that comes is not able to continue the project it is still at a viable stage that can be used. Instead of starting and leaving the decision of continuing the project in a balance,” he said.