The Role of Governance & Transparency in DFID’s Infrastructure & Urban Programming: Summary of Roundtable Discussion

A consensus has emerged around the importance of governance and transparency in delivering infrastructure and services in low income countries. Policy-makers have tended to focus on the challenges of increasing financial investment. However, this new consensus moves beyond that approach in recognising that poor governance and a lack of bankable projects are barriers that must first be overcome to enable investment. This point was captured succinctly during Africa’s First Roundtable on Infrastructure Governance, “. . . there’s a growing realisation globally and in Africa that if you get the governance aspects right, the finance will follow. Get it wrong and the investment will dry up.”

It was with this new consensus in mind that in November 2017, ICED and CoST, in association with DFID, convened a roundtable meeting to discuss the role of governance and transparency in DFID’s infrastructure and urban programming. The event was attended by DFID advisers and representatives from other parts of government, civil society and the private sector. This note captures the key points made during the discussion. The text below follows the structure of the discussion with comments from participants appearing as bullet points. These points are contextualised with observations that draw from material provided to participants as background reading prior to the event.

Governance was defined for the purposes of the discussion as ‘the prioritisation, planning, financing, contracting and delivery of the built assets that are essential for economic growth and human development.’ Transparency was defined as ‘a governance instrument which aims to provide information to stakeholders, helping to increase public scrutiny and strengthen accountability’.