A good measure of state effectiveness is how well stuff is maintained. In well run places repainting is always on schedule. Potholes are fixed. And the light bulbs are not loose. I was reminded of this fact while on transit in Addis last Friday.
In 2006, the last time I was there, Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa was a swanky new airport. It made me feel like JKIA in Nairobi was a joke. But only five years later the place is a shadow of its former self. The loos are poorly maintained, especially the one near gate 8: It only had one urinal and there was only one elderly lady cleaning both the gent’s and the ladies’ thus creating a lot of awkwardness.
The problem at the Addis airport ails the infrastructure of most of the developing world. Roads, buildings, gardens etc are all poorly maintained. It’s like no one sees the potholes, the peeling paint or the overgrown gardens. Or may be no one cares. Either way the lack of maintenance imposes very high costs since the once in a while maintenance drives oftentimes start when it is too late – which invariably means that the whole thing (especially with roads) has to be done again.
This is a void (infrastructure maintenance) that can be filled by the private sector. IFIs that finance these major infrastructure projects to begin with can, in conjunction with domestic governments, hire private companies to maintain the expensive roads, bridges, airports, etc. This will not only save money but also create jobs for millions of young men and women who have very little prospect of finding gainful employment