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.
Global Infrastructure Facility
Developing viable infrastructure projects is tough in the best of circumstances. And over the last few years I’ve learned, first-hand, that developing them in emerging markets and developing countries is even tougher. That’s the main reason I joined the small-but-dedicated team of the Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF).
The GIF – which was formed only two years ago – looks to attract private finance to infrastructure projects in those countries that most need it. We serve as a platform where governments can collaborate with international financial institutions and private sector investors to design, structure and implement these complex projects. The potential is big – funding from GIF can lead to multi-million dollar projects at close.
Of the 56 poorest countries, over half had no private investment in infrastructure in the past five years. And in 2015, only 14 energy, transport and water projects involving private investment were concluded in that whole group of 56 countries—with all of them occurring in just eight of the countries. In the past five years, only one country – Bangladesh – has seen private investment in infrastructure each year. Given that well-structured private infrastructure projects can bring a useful infusion of management (and sometimes money) to help provide better quality and access to infrastructure services, this seems like a missed opportunity. Here are five suggestions for actions that governments can take immediately to improve their chances of attracting good quality private management and financing for some infrastructure services.