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Drawn out procurement wastes African aid cash

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AFRICAN AID money is being wasted on lengthy procurement methods for infrastructure projects, the Department for International Development (DFID) has warned.

DFID head of infrastructure Alistair Wray said that the 20 year gestation period for construction contracts was an inefficient way of spending money.

The allegation came a month after Action Aid reported that 60% of aid money was wasted on 'phantom aid flows' such as paying for the expat lifestyles of consultants.

Wray was speaking at the Engineering the Millennium Development Goals summit organised by the ICE presidential commission Engineers without Frontiers. The summit was intended to determine how engineering can reduce poverty.

Wray called on African countries and donors to reduce the number of infrastructure contracts to help cut costs and improve efficiency.

'Why should there be six different contracts all covering water in Mozambique-' he asked.

'They should all be channelled through one lead donor.' Wray revealed that DFID met last month with senior representatives from the African Development Bank, World Bank, European Commission and New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) to improve infrastructure spending.

The attendees now make up the 'Infrastructure Consortium for Africa' (ICA) which will focus on fleshing out spending budgets outlined in prime minister Tony Blair's Commission for Africa report.

The report, published in March, recommended that Africa needed an extra $10bn annually up to 2010, increasing to $19.6bn between 2010 and 2015. These funds build new roads and improve water supply and sanitation.

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