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Best Practices Can Help Overcome Transnational Infrastructure Challenges

Transnational infrastructure programs, such as cross-border railway networks and electricity distribution systems, can increase regional trade, prosperity, stability and integration. That is part of the rationale of the Priority Action Plan of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA PAP), encompassing 51 programs and with an investment need of $68bn up to the year 2020. Such programs face formidable challenges, however.

The challenges relate to financing, to technical and regulatory alignments (agreeing on the gauge width of a cross-border railway network, for instance, or on national axis-load regulations), and to matters of governance and even human relations. It is obviously very tricky to coordinate a programís responsibilities and processes across several countries when there is a great diversity of languages, cultures, financial capacities, and political and regulatory environments. Matters are further compounded by national self-interest, as in staffing, and sometimes by a legacy of historical rivalry and mistrust.

The challenges can be overcome, however, through the skillful deployment of established best practices during the program's various phases.

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