Are Infrastructure Services Affordable for All Users?



Improving access is a step in the right direction. This step will, however, not achieve much if users cannot afford the services they potentially have access to. Being a subjective concept, affordability is quite difficult to define precisely. There are indeed disparities in views on what affordability means. But there are also few rules of thumb that can be used to assess whether a service imposes a reasonable financial burden or not on the users. These are usually defined as a maximum proportion of income or consumption that households should have to pay to meet the basic needs of a specific public service. Some of these rules of thumb have been suggested in the literature, others are more formal statements by international organizations, and yet others belong to the “tool kits” of field experts with a long oral tradition. We use some of these rules in this chapter to offer a diagnostic of the affordability problem in Africa. We then look into the main factors that drive that diagnostic, including the costs and quality of services.


Pipe Water Infrastructure Service Unit Prex Bottom Quintile Affordability Problem 
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© Antonio Estache and Quentin Wodon 2014

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