Cross-sector collaboration is more important than ever – and needs to be done in a better way. Governments now face a $2.5 trillion funding gap to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, and will need $90 trillion in public private investment to slow the dangerous effects of climate change, according to a UN report.
The potential for partnerships to solve problems faced by the public sector dominates the news: in the United States, the new government has announced plans to prop up a $1 trillion infrastructure plan with public private partnership (PPP) financing. In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy, questions have arisen over the UK’s current method of outsourcing.
With ever-shrinking government budgets, the need for collaboration across all sectors – not just infrastructure, but environment, education, migration and many others – is more pressing than ever. Now is the time for government to get it right.
Public Sector and Governance
Photo Credit: Xing Yihang | CRIENGLISH.com
Kenya recently launched its high-capacity, high-speed standard gauge railway (SGR) for passenger and freight transportation, which currently runs from the coastal city of Mombasa to the capital city, Nairobi. The SGR replaces the meter gauge railway passenger line that was constructed during the British colonial period that was commonly referred to as the lunatic express.
The Kenyan SGR is part of a proposed wider regional network for the development of railway connecting Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan. Each of these countries is expected to develop the part of the railway line falling within its borders. Kenya is ahead of the pack, being the first country in the region to operationalize the SGR.
from the British colonialists in 1963. From a public-private partnership (PPP) perspective, the SGR is a unique project for various reasons:
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.
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:
Much is written about Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) from the perspective of the public sector, but one often forgets the private sector forms its own perspectives based on national and domestic market perceptions as well. These perceptions are always based on the availability of reliable qualitative and quantitative information.
Discussions with private sector leads has revealed that information gaps, more often than not, have proven to be obstacles that have resulted in “no-go” decisions on poorly articulated procurements initiated by inexperienced public sector procurement officers. Overcoming private sector hesitation is pertinent to the success of a procurement.
Photo: Jonathan Meddings | Flickr Creative Commons
The United Kingdom has been a leading player in the development of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) since the inception of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) in the early 1990s. PFI is a structure that introduced project finance into UK public services for the first time. Under PFI, a private sector consortium builds public assets and services them over a term of 25 to 30 years in exchange for an availability payment. Successive governments have taken full advantage of the policy’s ability to leverage private finance and thus generate additional infrastructure investment, beyond typically constrained capital budgets.
An often under-reported feature of the UK’s PPP policy is the variety of approaches it takes.
There is a famous saying that a successful person can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.
In real life however, the art of building a firm foundation is not always that simple. Waiting for others to simply throw bricks at you is not enough when the grand task is transforming infrastructure into an asset class. There is a need for a skillful bricklayer—and this is the role we see for the multilateral development banks (MDBs).
To meet this challenge, our two institutions – the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) – co-hosted a session moderated by AIIB’s Vice President Joachim von Amsberg at the recently-held 2017 Global Infrastructure Forum. The objective was precisely to discuss how to construct and promote infrastructure as a tradable asset class.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in Project Finance International. A version is reprinted here with their permission.
“How can we as government make the best use of our external advisers?” This is a question we often hear as regular advisers to host governments, or from multilateral or other agencies supporting governments, on the procurement of much needed energy and infrastructure—especially in emerging markets.
Thankfully, this question now comes up more often at the earlier end of the project procurement, rather than near the end.
Photo Credit: Flickr user n8agrin
Seven years ago I began working in the infrastructure field, and it has been truly remarkable to witness so much knowledge and so many incredible bright minds dedicated to the cause of providing sustainable and inclusive infrastructures globally, really!
During this time, I have realized how crucial project preparation is even though in the scheme of things it seems like a minute phase of a very long infrastructure life cycle. In fact, I compare the project preparation phase to the “cornerstone concept,” defined as the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.
In other words, if a project is well-prepared, well designed, well-thought of, it is more likely to flow better across the infrastructure life cycle and provide the desired services to the population, and vice versa.