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"Enabling Infrastructure"

"Enabling Infrastructure"

Book Chapter, pages 84-113

January 2011

Author: Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development; Director, Science, Technology, and Globalization Project; Principal Investigator, Agricultural Innovation in Africa

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Agricultural Innovation in Africa; Science, Technology, and Globalization; Science, Technology, and Public Policy


"Enabling infrastructure (public utilities, public works, transportation, and research facilities) is essential for agricultural development. Infrastructure is defined here as facilities, structures, associated equipment, services, and institutional arrangements that facilitate the flow of agricultural goods, services, and ideas. Infrastructure represents a foundational base for applying technical knowledge in sustainable development and relies heavily on civil engineering. This chapter outlines the importance of providing an enabling infrastructure for agricultural development. 1 Modern infrastructure facilities will need to reflect the growing concern over climate change. In this respect, the chapter will focus on ways to design "smart infrastructure" that takes advantage of advances in the engineering sciences as well as ecologically sound systems design. Unlike other regions of the world, Africa's poor infrastructure represents a unique opportunity to adopt new approaches in the design and implementation of infrastructure facilities.

Infrastructure and Development

Poor infrastructure and inadequate infrastructure services are among the major factors that hinder Africa's sustainable development. This view has led to new infrastructure development approaches. 2 Without adequate infrastructure, African countries will not be able to harness the power of science and innovation to meet sustainable development objectives and be competitive in international markets. Roads, for example, are critical for supporting rural development. Emerging evidence suggests that in some cases low-quality roads have a more significant impact on economic development than high-quality roads. In addition, all significant scientific and technical efforts require reliable electric power and efficient logistical networks. In the manufacturing and retail sectors, efficient transportation and logistical networks allow firms to adopt process and organizational innovations, such as the just-in-time approach to supply chain management...."


1. E. B. Barrios, "Infrastructure and Rural Development: Household Perceptions on Rural Development," Progress in Planning 70, no. 1 (2008): 1–44.

2. P. R. Agenor, "A Theory of Infrastructure-led Development," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control 34, no. 5 (2010): 932–50.


For more information about this publication please contact the STG Coordinator.

For Academic Citation:

Juma, Calestous. "Enabling Infrastructure." January 2011

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