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One question, eight experts, part eight: Thomas Maier

Thomas Maier's picture
Almaty, Kazakhstan. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

To gain a better understanding of how innovation in public-private partnerships (PPPs) builds on genuine learning, we reached out to PPP infrastructure experts around the world, posing the same question to each. Their honest answers redefine what works — and provide new insights into the PPP process. This is the question we posed: How can mistakes be absorbed into the learning process, and when can failure function as a step toward a PPP’s long-term success?

Our eighth and final response in this eight-part series comes from Thomas Maier, Managing Director, Infrastructure with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

For countries new to PPPs, there is no doubt a steep learning curve. Fortunately, there is also a growing body of experience that such countries can learn from — the key is to understand the essence of the lessons and then incorporate these changes into the design of government support for PPPs.

Ultimately there is, of course, no substitute for good project preparation, local capacity and the development of solid legal frameworks and local capital markets — we all know these are the building blocks for the long-term success of any country’s PPP program.

Focusing on lessons learned from EBRD’s region, two current examples from Kazakhstan and Turkey come to mind.

​Toward an effective PPP business model: An eight-point plan for closing the infrastructure gap

Thomas Maier's picture
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The global need for infrastructure is significant, particularly in emerging markets. By consensus estimates from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to the Boston Consulting Group and the World Bank Group, the estimated annual global infrastructure investment need is about US$3.7 trillion – of which only about $2.7 trillion is currently met on an annual basis. 

This much-discussed “infrastructure gap” is large and it is widening. Even if fiscal conditions in developed and emerging economies improve, the need introduced by the infrastructure financing gap is unlikely to be met from public sources alone. This generates an expectation that private capital and user charges must be mobilized to fill these gaps.

But this is an entirely predictable problem, and over many years the international community has made efforts to provide assistance in building public-private partnership (PPP) capacity in emerging markets. Finding ways to leverage private sector investment through sound, consistent and sustained public sector policies should be a focal point for governments around the world.  International financial institutions (IFIs), given their unique relationships with emerging market governments, can and do play an important role. The community of professionals in multilateral development banks (MDBs) is listening; MDBs are willing and able partners.

Of course, stating that idea is one thing; practicing it is another. Here are eight ways that together, we can move from the theoretical to the actual and reach our goals for infrastructure.

PPP Days Dispatch: Day Two

Tanya Scobie Oliveira's picture
The second half of the PPP Days conference in London was devoted to country presentations of priority PPP projects, and a few projects – those most likely to be brought to market in the next six to 12 months – were showcased in detail. It was an inspiring example of collaboration for the greater good, proving that PPPs’ potential is limited only by our imagination. (OK, and budgets. And elections. And good structuring. And the presence or absence of natural disasters. But it all starts with imagination and commitment.)
PPP Days participants also exchanged ideas today with people around the world who are engaged in the ongoing Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on public-private partnerships, via the first-ever PPP MOOC Google Hangout. This was an unprecedented opportunity for the over 23,000 people from more than 190 countries now taking the course to ask their most pressing PPP-related questions to officials and experts attending PPP Days – and for these officials and experts to learn from those in the field.

The PPP MOOC Google Hangout was facilitated by Laurence Carter, Senior Director of the World Bank Group’s PPP Group. Panelists included Julia Prescott, Chief Strategy Officer, Meridiam; Thomas Maier, Managing Director for Infrastructure, EBRD; and Pradeep Singh, CEO of the Mohali Campus and Deputy Dean of the Indian School of Business.
World Bank Group #PPPMOOC Google Hangout

PPP Days Dispatch: Day One

Tanya Scobie Oliveira's picture

As your PPP Days Rapporteur, I feel like I should start this dispatch by typing “Dateline: London” on a manual typewriter in a newsroom thick with cigarette smoke. Alas, I am hunting and pecking the tiny keyboard of my phone from Exchange Square, the immaculate, smoke-free home of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), our hosts for the PPP Days meeting.

Photo: (c)EBRD/Dermot Doorly

“Doing More, Doing Better” is PPP Days’ ambitious-sounding theme. The event’s creators convened the gathering to enhance the collaboration among multilateral development banks (MDBs) that is already strengthening the PPP marketplace. One of the best examples of this collaboration, the PPP Knowledge Lab, launched at the conference this morning. The PPP Knowledge Lab, now live at, is an online “one-stop-shop” for everything PPP. It’s an important online resource that will continually be refreshed and expanded.

Just as the PPP Knowledge Lab gathers great ideas onto one platform, PPP Days has gathered experts and thinkers in one place. These two days are packed full with talks, presentations, panel sessions, and breakout sessions that chip away at one of the most challenging questions of our day: “What would it take to double the right private infrastructure investment in emerging markets?” 

Measuring Public Opinion in Challenging Contexts

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

As we have discussed in other blog posts, public opinion is particularly important in countries with weak institutions of governance and accountability. Especially in fragile and conflict states, it can lend legitimacy to the government, help creating a national identity, and support governance reform. Unfortunately, public opinion is particularly hard to measure in those societies where it could be most important.