STREAM: The Infrastructure Question

STREAM: The Infrastructure Question

Physical infrastructure is at the top of the policy agenda across Africa. The investment is made in a dynamical space – many interconnected and fast-changing nodes. Consequently, most challenges of infrastructure do not admit long-term closed solutions. Following long-term trajectory of returns leads to severe stresses, and we see these stresses in major projects across Africa. The solution is an incremental and reflexive approach. However, the policy and management structures on which these projects are funded hardly admit incremental and reflexive strategies. These strategies would place enormous cost at the outset of projects – they require deep expertise. Rather, the orthodox approach is to set a wrong trajectory, knowingly or otherwise, and then deal with the ensuing stresses down the road. This is akin to the ‘hiding hand’ of Albert Hirschman. Therefore, we must ask, to what extent must we confront the reality of dynamical space of infrastructure investment at the start of projects?
The question above is interdisciplinary. It appeals to sociological and economic attributes of the actors. We seek to capture pockets of cases across Africa – from the unique disciplinary perspective of scholars and practitioners.

The Panels


The space comprises the state, society and market, and interweaving the three is the Northian institution (values and norms of the socio-juridical enclave). Our panels will look at the complex space from vantage points of the three structures.


Panel 1: The Perspective of the State

This panel will consider agency of state (government), and the supporting technocracy or management. The panel will present frames and tools that most closely assume the pedestals of government and infrastructure managers.


Panel 2: The Perspective of Society

Society is largely reactive to the complex challenges of infrastructure. The reaction takes the form of advocacy. Material of this panel will align most to advocacy.


Panel 3: The Perspective of the Market

Worldwide, before the Second World War, the market was a major player in the delivery of major infrastructure. The War forced the state the front. Looking back, over seven decades, the state had been retreating and public-private partnerships (PPP) has emerged and diffused. What does the future hold?

If you have any queries or suggestions please contact Fred Amonya ( For panel and paper submissions please follow the instructions on the website 

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