The task of preparing a viable, feasible, and sustainable infrastructure project can be a daunting one filled with many challenges. Throw in the need to incorporate an element of connectivity and the challenges only multiply in number and complexity. Indeed, during the annual meeting of the Global Infrastructure Connectivity Alliance (GICA), held in January 2018 at the OECD headquarters in Paris, GICA members identified several of these challenges, including the need to share best practices, ensure robust project preparation, and address the financing gap.
While multilateral development banks (MDBs) and international financial institutions (IFIs)—including GICA members Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the World Bank Group (WBG)—have the experience and financial or analytical tools to help, actually finding or accessing these resources can be difficult.
Is there a way to bridge this knowledge gap?
On Thursday, April 5, the World Bank-Singapore Infrastructure Finance Summit will take place – the eighth time that the World Bank, the Government of Singapore, and the Financial Times are partnering to hold this annual event.
The Summit has gone from strength to strength each year, and helped pave the way for the many infrastructure-themed events across the reigon. This year, as Singapore’s chairing of ASEAN brings its ministerial meetings to the city-state, finance ministers from across Southeast Asia will join the Summit, and their presence underscores the importance they attach to sustainable infrastructure development.
In the infrastructure domain, “price” is a prism with many façades.
An infrastructure economist sees price in graphic terms: the coordinates of a point where demand and supply curves intersect.
For governments, price relates to budget lines, as part of public spending to develop infrastructure networks.
Utility managers view price as a decision: the amount to charge for each unit of service in order to recover the costs of production and (possibly) earn a profit.
But for most people, price comes with simple question: how much is the tariff I have to pay for the service, and can I afford it?
The term “connectivity” is familiar to most of us, even if we don’t think about it much. When we bemoan the shortcomings of the mobile network in our neighborhood or thank the barista for the free and unexpectedly fast WIFI at our favorite coffee bar, we’re acknowledging the place connectivity has in our lives.
But connectivity also plays a larger, global role—one that links communities, economies, and countries through transport, trade, communications, energy, and water networks. In this broader form, it’s known as global infrastructure connectivity, and it boasts a special super power: the ability to catalyze infrastructure development.
Berkat program subsidi pemerintah, Dewi baru saja menjadi pemilik rumah untuk pertama kalinya. Tahun lalu, Dewi pindah ke rumah barunya di Yogyakarta. Ia saat itu berpikir: semuanya sempurna.
Ternyata kenyataannya tidak demikian. Rumah Dewi berjarak satu jam dari pusat kota, jauh dari daerah perkantoran, pusat perbelanjaan, dan sekolah untuk kedua anaknya. Dua tahun setelah perumahan selesai dibangun, lebih dari setengah rumah di sana masih kosong. Karena rumah tidak terhubung dengan sistem air setempat, dua kali seminggu Dewi harus membeli air. Saat musim banjir, Dewi mengalami kesulitan untuk mencapai rumahnya.
Penyediaan perumahan yang terjangkau dan memadai telah menjadi prioritas kebijakan utama pemerintah Indonesia dengan diluncurkannya program Satu Juta Rumah (One Million Homes). Berbagai upaya sebelumnya untuk memenuhi permintaan perumahan yang terjangkau – gabungan dari adanya permintaan baru secara tahunan dan pemenuhan kekurangan perumahan yang belum terlaksana - belum secara efektif membawa dampak pada skala yang diperlukan.
Tapi haruskah jumlah kepemilikan rumah menjadi indikator tunggal program subsidi perumahan yang sukses? Mungkinkah ada program yang memenuhi kebutuhan Pemerintah untuk tetap efektif biaya secara fiksal maupun ekonomi, dan sekaligus dapat merespons pasar swasta dan juga kebutuhan warga?
Saat ini berbagai pilihan sedang dieksplorasi. National Affordable Housing Program Project (NAHP) yang baru disetujui misalnya, bertujuan untuk berinovasi dalam pasar perumahan yang terjangkau dengan mengatasi kemacetan dan secara aktif melibatkan sektor swasta dalam melayani berbagai segmen yang belum tersentuh. Sejauh ini, upaya dari Indonesia ini memberikan pelajaran berharga, yaitu:
Income growth is not the sole aim of economic development. An equally important, albeit harder to quantify objective is a sense of progress for the entire community, and a confidence that prosperity is sustainable and shared equitably across society for the long term.
When I was in primary school, there was a large construction project happening on the road in front of our house. I remember it was loud, dusty and the subject of constant complaints from our neighbors. However, my most vivid memory is of all the shiny, majestic machinery being delivered by the workers in their bright orange uniforms.
There was an immediate fascination among the children with these powerful and temptingly dangerous machines. Of course our parents all drilled us with the same message – “Do not go near, do not touch, do not interfere with the nice men repairing the roads,” and so we abided, but the curiosity and thrill of potentially touching these metal monsters never entirely subsided. Luckily, working in the transport sector now I get to be around construction equipment all the time!
Driving from the airport into the city of Apia, the capital of Samoa, is a great introduction to the country. Villages line the road with gardens filled with colorful flowers and palm trees. Hugging the northwest coastline, the road sometimes comes as close as five meters from the shoreline, giving passengers truly spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.
While it’s a scenic introduction to Samoa, this drive is also a stark reminder of just how sensitive the country’s coastline is to erosion and damage. More than 50% of West Coast Road, Apia’s main roadway, sits less than three meters (9.8 feet) above sea level and just a few meters from the shoreline, making it highly vulnerable to damage and deterioration. When tropical cyclones, heavy rain, king tides and storm surges hit these coastal roads, they can lead to erosion, flooding and landslips, causing road closures and threatening the safety of the people who use them.
When I visited Vietnam for the first time three years ago, I imagined a Ho Chi Minh City out of Hollywood movies, with panoramic buildings of French architecture, tree-lined, long boulevards and the melting pot of Indochine cuisine.
After I began working in the city as an urban professional in 2012, I quickly learned to see it as much more: a vibrant, young, hip and energetic city with a vision and determination to become a leading metropolis in East Asia, not just in Vietnam, one of the fastest-growing emerging economies in the region.
And it has taken all the right steps just to do that, combining infrastructure development with social services to make sure the city is more livable and growth more sustainable. As the World Cities Day approaches, I thought it would be useful to share the city’s experience with the world.