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AD3: Developing Africa’s infrastructure: The rough road to better services

Carolyn Logan 18 Nov 2014
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Key findings
  • While access to mobile-phone networks (93%) and schools (88%) is quite widespread, other services fall far behind. Less than two-thirds of surveyed areas have ready access to an electricity grid (64%), health clinic (62%), and piped water (59%).
  • State provision of basic security services is even more limited; police posts are accessible in only 38% of the areas visited, suggesting a significant gap in meeting citizens’ safety and security needs
  • Country-level differences in access to service infrastructure are enormous: 89% lack access to piped water in Liberia, while teams report 100% access in Mauritius.
  • Rural-urban differences are also large, especially with respect to access to electricity (48 percentage point gap in favour of urban areas), piped water (45 point gap), sewerage (49 points), paved roads (44 point gap), and police stations (38 point gap).
  • Poverty levels tend to be significantly higher in areas without access to these services compared to areas that do have access.

Inadequate access to basic infrastructure and development services remains a key impediment to improving health, welfare, and security for many Africans. While large majorities have ready access to schools and cell-phone services, many Africans still do not enjoy adequate access to health clinics and police posts, as well as to electricity and water supply services, especially in rural areas. (Note: In this paper we use the term “access” to refer to the availability of services in a given area, without reference to the specific capacity of any individual or household to actually obtain the services.)

Carolyn Logan

Carolyn is the director of analysis and capacity building at Afrobarometer.