WP154: The face of African infrastructure: Service availability and citizens’ demands

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Working papers
Leo, Benjamin, Robert Morello, and Vijaya Ramachandran

The need for infrastructure improvements is a top-tier economic, political, and social issue in nearly every African country. Although the academic and policy literature is extensive in terms of estimating the impact of infrastructure deficits on economic and social indicators, very few studies have examined citizen demands for infrastructure. In this paper, we draw upon survey data to move beyond top-line estimates of national infrastructure access rates toward a more nuanced understanding of service availability and citizen demands at the regional, national, and sub-national levels. We find a predictable pattern of infrastructure services across income levels – lower-income countries have fewer services. The survey data also allows us to observe the sequencing of infrastructure services. On the demand side, survey respondents are most concerned with jobs and income-related issues, as well as with the availability of infrastructure, specifically transportation and sanitation. These priorities transcend demographic factors, including gender and location (urban/rural).