Report finds performance of AfDB-funded projects weak

The Buseruka Hydropower Project was among the 37 projects that were reviewed during the period. Photo | courtesy 

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The report revealed that the efficiency of AfDB’s projects over the evaluation period was rated as partly unsatisfactory, noting that only two completed projects in agriculture and water supply and sanitation produced positive economic returns

A report by the African Development Bank (AfDB) has found that economic returns on completed investments supported by the bank was limited and unsatisfactory.  

The report by AfDB’s Independent Development Evaluation Department reviewed the Country Strategy Paper between 2011 and 2021, examining various projects funded by the bank. 

At least 37 projects valued at $2.09b, of which about 94 percent were in the public sector and 6 percent in the private sector, were examined. 

The transport sector received the largest share of funding (49.4 percent), followed by agriculture (14.6 percent) and water supply and sanitation (12.1 percent) while the power sector and social sector received 9.8 percent each.

The report noted that whereas AfDB’s interventions were aligned to Uganda’s development challenges, findings in energy, transport, water supply and sanitation, and agriculture, were, however, mostly below target. 

“Projects that were completed in agriculture and water supply and sanitation had positive economic returns, but cost overruns and delays in project completion were an issue in all sectors,” the report said, noting that while AfDB’s interventions had reversed power shortages, power surplus now threatens the sector’s viability given that government has to pay for unused energy, which drives up end-user tariffs. 

Private public partnerships for construction of hydropower plants have been a viable alternative that has helped Uganda to move from power shortages to a power surplus. 

However, the large size of power surplus means that government resources are still not being used efficiently in the power sector with the government paying so much for unused power. 

The report also noted that sustainability of AfDB infrastructure projects is challenged by weaknesses in funds, human and institutional capacity. 

The report also revealed that the efficiency of AfDB’s projects over the evaluation period was rated as partly unsatisfactory, noting that only two completed projects in agriculture and water supply and sanitation produced positive economic returns, but in all sectors, project start-up delays were an issue.

Implementation delays   

Cost overruns and implementation delays were also experienced throughout the evaluation period as a result of delays in procurement and disbursement with the cumulative disbursement ratio standing between 24 percent and 28 percent, which was below the bank’s corporate target of 50 percent.  

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