IDB report outlines infrastructure challenges in The Bahamas
The Bahamas continues to suffer from infrastructure challenges in relation to water and sanitation, energy, air and maritime, its road network and the transport sectors, while having some of the highest rates of mobile and broadband in the world, as well as electricity tariffs that are among the highest in the Caribbean region, a report from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) reveals.
The 2019 Latin American and Caribbean Macroeconomic Report, which is a series of briefs on Caribbean countries’ infrastructure, said The Bahamas is in need of upgrades on several fronts, especially its airport infrastructure, which the report notes is “inadequate” and below aviation standards.
“The Family Islands require substantial investment in aviation transport and connectivity, with recent estimates suggesting almost US$140 million is needed to upgrade its obsolete and inadequate airport infrastructure and systems to comply with international aviation standards,” the report states.
Despite this challenge, the report touts this country’s comprehensive air connectivity which it notes is “getting better”. It adds that with more than 53 licensed airports, “through the newly formed Civil Aviation Authority, the government continues to meet all its international obligations as one of the most encapsulating air transport systems among developing economies”.
And while this country has a mobile penetration rate that is about 85 percent, the report states this country continues to be challenged in information and communication technology matters that affect e-commerce.
“The Bahamas ranks 22nd in Latin America and the Caribbean in mobile telephone penetration (only above Ecuador, Haiti, Guyana and Belize) and 15th in wireless broadband penetration, which indicates substantial room for improvement in the development of technological solutions that could result in significant benefits for the population, including additional financial inclusion,” the report points out.
In terms of shipping infrastructure, the IDB reports notes that shipping to the southern Bahamas remains a challenge for this country, given that many of the ports in that region are “outdated, inefficient and fragmented and they need to be modernized to aid further development as well as to maintain connectivity”.
While the report recommends upgrades to water and sanitation infrastructure, it points out that The Bahamas’ gaps in that area are higher than the average for the category called “Emerging Asia”, putting The Bahamas higher than many countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region.
The infrastructure report did, however, lament The Bahamas’ “old power generating infrastructure” that “suffers from frequent power outages”. The report notes that the country’s energy sector indicators fall below expected performance.
“The implementation of a robust, renewable energy policy and the upgrading of current systems will reduce outages and lower consumption costs to businesses and residential customers,” the report points out.