Photo: Munish Chandel | Flickr Creative Commons
This is the final blog in a three-part series on traffic risk in PPPs
As explained in the previous two blogs – Traffic Risk in Highway PPPs, Part I: Traffic Forecasting and Traffic Risk in PPPs, Part II: Bias in Traffic Forecasts – traffic risk is inevitable, given our imperfect ability to predict traffic and revenue a long way (often several decades) into the future. And what makes it harder is that there are often biases at play in the typical project environment, which can cause a skewness towards over-estimation rather under-estimation of traffic flows. This, of course, can then result in financial losses and distress for the project, as manifested in a number of high profile bankruptcies, renegotiations and bailouts in the toll road sector.
In the new PPIAF and GIF publication, Toll Road PPPs: Identifying, Mitigating and Managing Traffic Risk, we outline various ways in which governments, bidders and financiers can take important steps to reduce the amount of traffic risk in projects. But we also acknowledge that the use of, for example, industry-standard forecasting techniques, better due diligence and a more stable policy environment will only go so far in reducing traffic risk. The reality is that there will always be some risk in any project, regardless of the best endeavors taken by the project parties. So, the key question is, what should we do with traffic risk and who should be responsible for bearing that risk?
Public private partnership
Photo: Munish Chandel | Flickr Creative Commons
An artist’s interpretation of the Attika Schools PPP Project in Greece, which reached financial close in Q2 2014
(Photo: World Fianance)
In 2014, the 24 Schools Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project in the wider Athens area marked the reopening of the Greek PPP market and was only the second PPP project to reach financial close in Greece.
It aimed to address the existing quantity and quality need for schools, covering 6,500 students in 10 municipalities who came from diverse socio-economic backgrounds in the historical region of Attica, which encompasses the city of Athens. Benefits included the timely and enhanced delivery of schools to improve educational outcomes, better maintenance through the lifetime of the project, the highest service standards, the response to user needs, and significant savings in energy cost.
(Photo: Getty Images)
There is a huge need for new and upgraded infrastructure around the world, particularly in emerging markets. Policy makers like to talk about raising trillions of dollars to fund infrastructure, but the truth is that capital for good projects exists. Regulation and lack of policy clarity are inhibitors.
What lacks is a strong pipeline of projects that meet societal needs and are financeable. If we can increase the quality of projects, and encourage smart and efficient regulations, the money to fund them will follow.
We identified several areas that should be prioritized by the international community and local governments.
Photo: Adam Cohn | Flickr Creative Commons
India, until recently the fastest growing economy in the world, realized long ago the need for developing infrastructure to fuel its growth. The government also realized that doing so with public funds would not be sufficient. Hence, India rolled out one of the largest Public-Private Partnership (PPP) programs in the world over the first decade of the 21st century.
But India’s massive program also brought with it some challenges, which eventually slowed down the growth of PPPs over the last five years. Yet, this was not the end of the program or our national infrastructure ambitions. This was a learning period, and the relevant government agencies have been efficient in mapping out the constraints that plagued the PPP market and are working on policies to remedy them. It remains to be seen whether or not the implementation of these corrective measures will put the jewel back in the crown of Indian PPPs, but it is a step in the right direction.
As infrastructure projects are increasingly decentralized to sub-national governments (SNGs) in many countries, policymakers are keenly interested in developing sub-national bond markets to open up access to private-sector financing. However, the transaction costs of bond issuance are still prohibitive for small SNGs.
Pooled financing—through regional infrastructure funds, municipal funds, or bond banks—is being explored as a solution. Yet, many questions remain:
Photo: Roberto Maldeno | Flickr Creative Commons
Infrastructure in Ukraine, Europe’s largest country, is extremely underdeveloped. Without significant investment, it cannot support the existing or future needs of our economy or population. The reasons are many: decades of mismanagement under Soviet rule, economic crisis, and more recently, the conflict in the Donbass. Given that these constraints go beyond a simple lack of funding, our government is partnering with the Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF), as well as other international partners such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank.
Welcome to the “10 Candid Career Questions” series, introducing you to the infrastructure and PPP professionals who do the deals, analyze the data, and strategize on the next big thing. Each of them followed a different path into infra and/or PPP practice, and this series offers an inside look at their backgrounds, motivations, and choices. Each blogger receives the same 10 questions that tell their career story candidly and without jargon. We hope you will be surprised and inspired.
What is your dream?
Many people living in Peru dream of having a safe, well-built, multi-use bathroom that includes an adjacent area for a shower with a nice shower curtain and mirror and is constructed with bricks and cement, and has a wooden door and window. Sounds ordinary, right?
But for 2.4 million households in Peru this dream is out of reach because they have no access to credit lines, and the only way for them to construct an in-house bathroom would be by paying the entire construction cost upfront. This situation created an unexplored market estimated at $500 million – an amount large enough to attract private sector investors.
"It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so."
– “The Big Short”
Forecasting traffic accurately is a very difficult and thankless task, as I explained in my previous blog: Traffic Risk in Highway PPPs, Part I: Traffic Forecasting. As such, this gives rise to very real financial risks if these forecasts turn out to be wrong. This risk has crystallized many times as manifested in high-profile distressed projects, bankruptcies, renegotiations and bailouts.
So what’s driving the inaccuracy and resulting risk in traffic forecasts? In the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) and Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF) publication, Toll Road PPPs: Identifying, Mitigating and Managing Traffic Risk, we postulate that forecasting inaccuracy comes from three sources:
Photo by Adam Gregor/ Shutterstock.com
The theme of this year’s Global Infrastructure Forum was delivering sustainable and inclusive infrastructure. As a woman who works in the world of infrastructure, I was invited to join a panel at the forum made up solely of women to address gender inclusivity and was asked to provide a specific example of a project beneficial to women. The first thing that came to mind was our solar project in Senegal, which has not only opened up the country to solar for the first time, but has also empowered local women through training in business skills through an organization called Empow’Her that was linked to the project.