Photo Credit: Tim Wang via Flickr Creative Commons
According to the World Bank Group’s Private Participation in Infrastructure (PPI) Database, an estimated 10-30% of global infrastructure projects with private-sector participation in low- and middle-income countries are unsolicited, meaning the proposal was submitted by a private sector entity without an explicit request from a government to do so. The considerable use of this alternative procurement method, where the private sector rather than the government takes the leading role in initiating and developing a project, raises important concerns for public infrastructure practitioners at both technical and political levels due to the nature of unsolicited proposals (USPs). USPs offer potential opportunities for governments, but experience shows they can introduce several challenges, such as diverting public resources away from the strategic plans of the government, failing to attract competition, and ultimately leading to opportunities for corruption.
Around the world, roads remain the dominant mode of transport and are among the most heavily-used types of infrastructure, accounting for about 80% of the distance travelled for individuals and 50% for goods.
Despite this intensive use, the funding available for road maintenance has been inadequate, leaving roads in many countries unsafe and unfit for purpose.
To make matters worse, roads are also very vulnerable to climate and disaster risk: when El Niño hit Peru in 2017, the related flooding damaged about 18% of the Peruvian road network in just one month.
It is no surprise then that roads are the sector that will require the most financing. In fact, the G20 estimates that roads account for more than half of the $15 trillion investment gap in infrastructure through 2040.