Photo: Michiel van Nimwegen | Flickr Creative Commons
Just ahead of this year’s anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, I visited the Tsunami Honganji Vihara site in Sri Lanka where upwards of 2,000 people died when their train was destroyed by the force of the waves. Shortly after my visit, Sri Lanka was faced with an unusually large tropical cyclone that pummeled the capital of Colombo, and caused extensive flooding, power failures and infrastructure damage. And, a few thousand miles away, Bali’s highest volcano, Mount Agung, was threatening to erupt, causing considerable anxiety in Colombo that it could trigger another tsunami event of the same magnitude of the 2004 disaster.
Upon my return to the United States I learned of the raging wildfires in California causing massive damages.
This year’s seemingly never-ending adverse weather events, exacerbated by climate change, along with adverse natural events such as earthquakes, are negatively impacting critical infrastructure globally. Some might describe 2017 as a global “annus horribilis” for adverse “force majeure” events.
The World Region
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As Washington, D.C.’s infrastructure braces for its first winter freeze and 2017 draws to a close, this feels like the right moment for a recap on what the year has brought us in terms of closing the infrastructure gap across emerging markets and developing economies; policy directions within and outside of the World Bank Group; new instruments, tools, and resources; and—the proof in the pudding—actual investment levels.
There may not be one blog that can capture all of those themes in detail, but here is a brief overview of what 2017 has meant and what is on the docket for 2018 and beyond.
Photo: Jakob Montrasio | Flickr Creative Commons
Getting to commercial close on a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) transaction is a major milestone. But the deal is far from done. Getting from commercial close to financial close involves satisfying a long list of PPP contract Conditions Precedent, the terms, and conditions of lenders, among other requirements. The process is tricky and involves a lot of heavy lifting, particularly in emerging markets where the market for PPPs and supporting institutional structures may not yet be robust. None of this is news.
Yet CPCS has experienced this firsthand as transaction advisors advising governments on PPP deals in developing economies.
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A key challenge when developing a policy to manage unsolicited proposals (USPs) in infrastructure projects is to strike a balance between receiving submissions and creating competitive tension. In a previous blog, we warned that USPs should be used with caution as an exception to the public procurement method, and argued that a good policy to manage USPs can help ensure transparency and predictability, and protect the public interest.
Surely a government that decides to consider USPs and develops a policy to manage them will look forward to receiving compliant proposals. At the same time, the government should ensure the project represents a fair market price and delivers value for money. Yet what is the incentive for the private sector to submit an unsolicited bid if the government takes it and competitively procures it? How can a government make USPs appealing to the private sector while attracting enough competing bidders?
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According to NASA, 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001. So—with climate change high on the global agenda—almost every nation signed the 2015 Paris Agreement, the primary goal of which is to limit the rise in global temperatures to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. However, with the acute effects of global warming already being felt, further resilience against climate change is needed.
To meet both mitigation and adaptation objectives, “green infrastructure” can help.
Photo: Diana Susselman | Flickr Creative Commons
I worked with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for exactly 20 years, all of which was in advisory work. I spent five years in Barbados, five in Washington, five in Zimbabwe and five in South Africa: perfect symmetry. On my 20th anniversary, I took a package and returned home, to the beautiful Caribbean. IFC was a great place to work, where we were challenged every day to come up with innovative solutions to seemingly intractable problems. Some of our deals were truly groundbreaking and lived up to IFC’s motto to improve people’s lives. That’s the kind of job satisfaction that money can’t buy.
After 76 countries, millions of air miles, and some pretty forgettable airport hotels, sometimes I look back and think: what was it all about?
Photo: totojang1977 / Shutterstock.com
In my last blog, I compared Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) with marriage. I had explained that, though very different, the public and private can come together as they each possess characteristics beneficial to the other. Great in theory, but often difficult in practice.
Critics of PPPs abound and listing them here would be impractical. But whether they are auditors, civil society or within the World Bank Group, critics help us improve. We try to respond to our critics, including through blogs such as this one.
The protection of real property rights and improving the efficiency of land and property markets are key pillars in a modern, well-functioning economy. Over the last 30 years, many countries have initiated programs to issue land titles for all properties, improve the performance of land administration services, automate land information systems, and integrate them with ongoing e-government and e-service programs.
The World Bank, often with other development partners, has provided more than $1.5 billion in grants, credit and loans to more than 50 countries to support the implementation of such programs. Other bilateral and multi-lateral development partners have also provided substantial funding and technical assistance to many countries.
Most of us carry out research and report our findings with the expectation—or at least a hope—of an audience.
Yet fewer amongst us are familiar with our audience, even though their feedback may help us improve our work.
We, the team behind the Private Participation in Infrastructure (PPI) Database—the most comprehensive database of private investments in infrastructure in the developing world—continue to strengthen the database and our ensuing analyses. Learning more about our audience is an important component of these efforts.
Photo: Magnus D | Flickr Creative Commons
The issue of bankability of infrastructure projects has long been a topic of discussion by the development and investors’ communities and is one of the key bottlenecks in attracting private capital to meet the global infrastructure gap and to provide millions of people with the key services they lack.
Under German presidency, the Business 20 (B20)—a platform that enables the global business community to contribute to international policy discussions—submitted 20 recommendations to Group of Twenty (G20) leaders under the theme “Building Resilience—Improving Sustainability—Assuming Responsibility.” Recommendation 14 is on boosting infrastructure finance and reads:
G20 members should boost infrastructure finance by developing and promoting bankable and investment-ready infrastructure project pipelines and by enhancing the role of Multilateral Development Banks as catalysts for private sector investment.
The B20 task force on infrastructure confirms “the investment gap in infrastructure is not the result of a shortage of capital. Real long-term interest rates are low, there is ample supply of long-term finance, interest by the private sector is high, and the benefits are obvious.” However, a number of factors hold back investment in terms of financing and funding. “The main challenge is to find bankable and investment-ready projects.”