Introduction: The Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Imperative
A country’s infrastructure endowment plays a major strategic role in its economic growth and global competitiveness. High-quality infrastructure facilities may be costly to build and maintain, but they provide many economic benefits, as they facilitate trade and production efficiencies for other industries. Consider how an unreliable electricity supply would add to the overall cost of doing business, as firms must either pause production during blackouts or pay for expensive back-up generators. Several studies have shown the positive effect of infrastructure on the national economy: depending on the current infrastructure stock, a 1% increase in infrastructure assets will boost gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.05% to 0.25% in the long term.1
Functioning infrastructure makes a positive impact not only on the economy, but also on the environment and society at large. Every family and community needs proper infrastructure to thrive and achieve social progress – for example, the electricity that enables children to read at night and the road that gives them speedy access to healthcare facilities. Yet in Africa, 40% of agricultural produce rots on the way to market because of bad roads, and half a billion people lack access to electricity.2 In the absence of electricity, people continue using fuel sources such as charcoal and kerosene, with all the predictable social and environmental results: increased disease, deforestation and carbon emissions.