Gaza is one of the most fragile places in the world. Its 2 million people have lived under a blockade since 2007. Crammed within an area of only 365 square kilometers—about the size of Philadelphia—its mostly young and educated population has few economic opportunities, with unemployment topping 50 percent. As GDP per capita falls, more than half of its people have sunk below the poverty line, with few opportunities for prosperity. Only donor support is keeping the economy afloat.
In addition to that, Gaza is constrained by limited access to power—with only four hours per day of electricity. That creates a huge burden to ordinary people, who are forced to plan around the power schedule. But the lack of power is also crushing the life out of the manufacturing sector, which previously served as a major source of employment in Gaza. So, can we in the international development community do something to address this problem?
RecondOil | Flickr
Regional trade in electricity and other energy products can be a powerful force for market integration and sustainable development. In the Arab world, there are great potential benefits from increasing electricity trade beyond its current, very low level. The potential shared value of trade in electricity in 2020–2030 is estimated at $12 billion. We can expect even greater savings, about $44 billion, from more optimal power systems operation, with a major role for gas as the main fuel for power generation, displacing expensive liquid fuels.
Tomas Castelazo | Wikimedia Commons
La revista colombiana Dinero, una de las publicaciones económicas más reconocidas de América Latina, recientemente publicó un estudio del Banco Mundial en el que clasificaba a Colombia como el segundo país más competitivo del mundo—detrás de un empate entre Gran Bretaña y Australia—para financiar obras de infraestructura bajo el modelo de Alianzas Público-Privadas (conocidas como APP). De igual manera, este puntaje (de 83 puntos sobre 100) fue también compartido por las naciones de Paraguay y Filipinas.
A primera vista, este es un virtuoso reconocimiento—por lo menos en papel. En la práctica diaria en la región latinoamericana, así como en la mayoría de las economías emergentes, la complejidad administrativa de los órganos gubernamentales aún representa uno de los más altos retos que demanda de atención inmediata para que las APPs puedan alcanzar su potencial máximo. Hacer esto correctamente integraría realmente el modelo de PPP en el motor de desarrollo económico y social requerido para competir en una economía globalizada.
Tomas Castelazo | Wikimedia Commons
The Colombian magazine Dinero, one of the most respected economic publications in Latin America, recently published a story about a World Bank study that placed Colombia as the second most competitive country in the world—behind a tie between Great Britain and Australia—to finance infrastructure projects under the public-private partnership model (known as PPPs). This score (83 points out of 100) was also shared by Paraguay and the Philippines.
At first glance, this is a virtuous recognition—at least on paper. However, in daily practice in the Latin American region, like most emerging economies, the administrative complexity of government bodies still presents enormous challenges that demand immediate attention if PPPs are to reach their full potential. Getting this right would truly integrate the PPP model into the economic and social development engine required to compete in a globalized economy.
While discussion about Maximizing Finance for Development (MFD) is ramping up with governments and the international development community to seek innovative approaches to mobilize more private sector investment in developing countries, there is a group of countries with an additional layer of complex challenges.
It brings me no pleasure to say this, but a fair number of countries have economic and financial conditions, business environments, and rule of law that are almost always weak. Clearly, these conditions significantly increase the risks of investing in infrastructure for the private sector; consequently, the markets for public-private partnerships (PPPs) tend to be less developed.
What do Bangladesh, Honduras, and Senegal have in common?
They all have per capita Gross Net Income below $1,165, allowing them to borrow from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) that provides concessional financing to the world’s poorest countries. There are 72 other such IDA-eligible countries.
IDA countries face many complex challenges in the new global economy, including underdeveloped infrastructure, inadequate access to basic services, and a lack of affordable financing. IDA support simply is not enough to resolve the myriad of complexities in these countries, and governments need to seek alliances with the private sector—especially when it comes to building infrastructure sustainably.
Photo: only_kim / Shutterstock.com
There are many drivers of climate change, but few would disagree that energy infrastructure built according to “business-as-usual” standards is a major one. Meeting the lofty goals set at the 2015 Paris Climate Accords requires powering our homes, businesses, and government agencies with a cleaner mix of energy that includes more renewable sources. It also requires promoting standards that encourage energy efficiency—for example, for appliances or building codes—as a low-cost and high-impact way to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF) is playing a positive role by preparing bankable, climate-smart projects that help countries build low-carbon energy infrastructure and encourage greater energy-efficiency measures. The GIF both drives and leverages private sector investments in climate-smart projects by promoting good governance and standardization in project preparation and has a sizeable portfolio of climate-smart projects in the pipeline.
Photo: Pixabay Creative Commons
Solar power is experiencing a surge in popularity across the globe. It prevents carbon emissions, helps diversify the power generation mix, reduces dependence on fossil fuels, and can increase off-grid energy access.
With falling costs of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology, advancing storage technology, and grid integration, prices for solar PV electricity have been falling rapidly around the world and solar is now in many countries price competitive with traditional energy sources and has become particularly attractive for developing countries.
Photo: Creativa Images | Shutterstock
Critically constrained public resources on the one hand, and huge existing infrastructure needs for basic services on the other, make private participation in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) not just critical, but in fact, imperative. Crowding in private finance is essential to spur economic development and meet the twin goals of shared prosperity and elimination of extreme poverty, as well as to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Private Participation in Infrastructure (PPI) Database, with data spanning over almost 27 years, has become a powerful tool and measure for gauging the level of private investment in infrastructure in EMDEs.
Photo: Felix_Broennimann | Pixabay Creative Commons
Infrastructure is a key driver for growth, employment, and better quality of life in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs). But this comes at a cost. Approximately 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from infrastructure construction and operations such as power plants, buildings, and transport. The Overseas Development Institute estimates that over 720 million people could be pushed back into extreme poverty by 2050 as a result of climate impacts, while the World Health Organization projects that the number of deaths attributable to the harmful effects of emissions from key infrastructure industries will rise from the current 150,000 per year to 250,000 by 2030.
Does this mean we need to build less infrastructure? No. But part of the solution lies in low-carbon infrastructure.