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Davos 2013: A Thief Stealing Bells Is Not an Optimist

Kevin Lu's picture

For the past five years, the participants to the Annual Meetings of the World Economic Forum (WEF) have gathered in Davos to discuss urgent global crises the world was facing: subprime lending, the credit crunch, banking, Greece, the euro zone’s woes, and so on. Soul-searching about the political and economic status quo ensued. This year, with leadership transitions in the two largest economies completed, the euro zone no longer facing imminent break-up, and China growing at 7.8%, Davos resumed some normalcy. Some even claimed optimism.

Some of the optimism is based on the growth prospects in Asia and China. For the past five years, while Europe has not grown at all, Chinese GDP has grown 60%. In this year’s Davos, there were no fewer than five public sessions on China, with topics ranging from its rapid growth, transformation of its growth model, and emergence of its soft power. Interests in Asia are high.

Investing in Infrastructure in Africa: Conundrum and Opportunity

Esohe Denise Odaro's picture

Last week, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released its semi-annual report on FDI flows, which reflected generally dismal results: global FDI declined by 8 percent, with a 5 percent decrease for the developing world in particular. Investing in Infrastructure in AfricaI found it interesting that South Africa’s significant decline in FDI seemed to catch a good deal of media interest. Yes, the continent’s darling and the usually one of the highest recipients of FDI saw a drastic drop (by 43%); admittedly this deserves more than a glance. But I wonder why Finland and Ireland’s numbers, at 96.2 and 42.8 percent respectively, didn’t make much news. South Asia’s inflows also fell by 40 percent as a result of declines across nearly all countries in the subcontinent. In India, inward FDI fell from US$18 billion to US$10 billion. Why South Africa? In my opinion, the flow of investment to sub-Saharan Africa is often reported as a sign that the doors of the last frontiers are being approached.

More Precious than Gold?

Cara Santos Pianesi's picture

World Bank President Robert Zoellick will discuss topics other than gold while in Asia this week, in case you’re wondering.

One of those topics is infrastructure, which—to denizens in the developing world who struggle to move goods and people, drink clean water, and keep the lights on—may be more precious than any metal.

 

On Wednesday Zoellick was in Singapore for a prominent infrastructure conference, where he underlined that a focus on infrastructure is a key part of the solid growth agenda the G-20 is trying to tackle. He also noted some important facts. First, infrastructure investment represents two-thirds of growth increase in East Asia and about half of the growth increase in Africa. Second, the World Bank estimates the need for infrastructure investment and maintenance in developing countries will amount to about $900 billion a year.

Powering up Africa

Rebecca Post's picture

Breaking news! The OrPower4 Project has been awarded:
African Renewables Deal of the Year 2009 from Project Finance Magazine.

After a long journey to Nairobi, in the midst of a much-needed shower, the room went black. Fortunately the lights came on a few seconds later. My good fortune was only due to the fact that the hotel’s generator kicked in – with its attendant high cost and environmental and safety hazards. 

I’m no stranger to the power outages that present themselves nearly every evening in this part of the world, but it’s one thing to experience a minor inconvenience, quite another for the business that is losing money due to power outages, the student who is losing out on opportunities because she can’t study at night, or the doctor trying to treat a victim of a late-night road accident. And these are the lucky ones. Only 15 percent of all Kenyans have any access to electricity.