Nothing about infrastructure is quick, easy or cheap. Every step—conceptualization, feasibility studies, design, financing, construction, operations, maintenance, and stakeholder communications—takes a lot of time, money, coordination and planning. Unfortunately, in most cases, no single institution has the capacity to handle such complexity on its own, while at the same time private sector investors and financiers who have trillions to invest have not been able to find pipeline of bankable or investment ready projects. In this reality, pulling off a successful infrastructure project requires a great deal of knowledge and expertise that is best found through collaboration.
Just two years ago, Ghana was experiencing unstable commodity prices and a deteriorating macroeconomic situation. Yet, through a unique combination of World Bank guarantees nearly $8 billion in private investment was mobilized for the Sankofa Gas Project—the biggest foreign direct investment in Ghana’s history. The transformational project helped address serious energy shortages and put the country on a path to economic growth.
This is just one example illustrating how risk mitigation products play out in practice to encourage private sector investment and improve people’s lives.
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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.
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 highwaysagency
Infrastructure often makes headlines – and the sentiment is not always positive. Major projects must navigate a minefield of potential problems. One that is frequently overlooked is how the local community will react to the physical and environmental disruption that comes with major construction projects.
Achieving consensus and winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of stakeholders and affected communities for the construction of major infrastructure schemes can be challenging, but it is essential to deliver a successful project that benefits everyone in the community.
Gary Sargent, an engagement director from CJ Associates, is involved in a two-year consultation program for a major highway scheme in the United Kingdom and helped the authority design an integrated stakeholder engagement, communications and consultation strategy.
Here is Sargent’s advice:
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Investing in infrastructure relies on well-designed, solid projects that both governments and private sector investors can confidently support. But globally, the pipeline of such projects is weak. No surprise, then, that actual infrastructure investments fall far short of demand—the resulting infrastructure gap is estimated to be $1 trillion annually. In the poorest developing countries, the situation is worse: since 2012, they have seen overall private investment in infrastructure fall leaving billions without basic services such as electricity, clean water, or sanitation.
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.
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 15 questions and answers 10 or more that tell their career story candidly and without jargon. We believe you’ll be as surprised and inspired as we were.