3 lessons on collaboration from the Global Infrastructure Facility

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Image“Those who have learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed,” Charles Darwin famously wrote about the process of evolution in an interconnected world.  A year ago at this time, the group of partners that now comprises the Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF) embarked on this new three-year pilot ‎initiative to create a collaborative platform to build consensus, offer advice, and seek commitments to building bankable infrastructure projects in the places that need them most.  As our own evolution continues, it's an opportune time to reflect on the GIF's progress, and what's yet to come.
Our experience during this first year has taught us a lot about the challenges of collaborative project preparation in the infrastructure space. Three lessons stand out:

Collaboration is urgent

The GIF platform coordinates and integrates the efforts of multilateral development banks, private sector investors and financiers, and relevant governments in emerging markets and developing economies.  No single institution could achieve these goals alone, and yet the goals are more urgent than ever. That’s what impelled the formation of the GIF, and we continue to see high demand, especially for the services of our Technical Partners – multilateral development banks with experienced advisory personnel. There’s also a strong sense of urgency from our Funding Partners, who need to demonstrate results quickly.

Our Advisory Partners, which include insurers, fund managers, and commercial lenders, and which together have approximately $12 trillion in assets under management, play an equally important role as the voice of the private sector, providing feedback that will lead to more bankable projects that mitigate risks and make projects more attractive to long-term private investors.
Although infrastructure projects tend to take a significant period of time to prepare, by working together we have laid a solid foundation, and anticipate meeting our shared target of supporting 15-20 projects during the three-year pilot period.

Collaboration is complicated – and rewarding

The GIF platform, built around collaboration, sets the GIF apart from other project preparation facilities. Making a collaborative platform work is complex, but the results speak for themselves. During the past year, the team has looked at 46 projects in 35 countries. Planning grants (up to $150,000 per grant) have been approved for the following four countries:
  • Brazil: a logistics infrastructure program;
  • Cote d’Ivoire: an integrated port and logistics infrastructure investment program;
  • Egypt: a greenfield dry port and connecting rail bypass; and
  • Georgia: a greenfield deep-sea port.
Applications and Planning Grants under preparation include projects in the Solomon Islands (for a 20MW hydropower plant) and in Kenya (a PPP roads program). Active pipeline discussions are underway with Ghana, Indonesia, Laos, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, and Vietnam.
Together, these projects allow the GIF to contribute to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and global climate change commitments through infrastructure projects that address pressing social and economic needs of the poorest people in an environmentally sustainable way.

Collaboration has a promising future

The GIF’s goals for the coming years are ambitious.  Among other targets, we plan to:
  • bring representatives from emerging markets and developing economies into the Governing Council so that beneficiary countries can contribute their perspective;
  • transform some of our early discussions into viable projects while continuing to build a pipeline of diverse projects;
  • provide proof of concept that will lead to replenishment of the pilot funds and an expansion of the Facility; and
  • create a downstream window, moving beyond project preparation to fill in the gaps in infrastructure finance by mobilizing private capital through complementary financing and credit enhancement facilities.
As the GIF co-chairs, we’re excited by what has been achieved during the GIF’s first year, and we’re optimistic about the GIF’s lasting contribution to quality, affordable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure in emerging markets and developing countries. The GIF will continue to pursue a collaborative approach to infrastructure that is a requirement for prevailing on our increasingly interconnected planet.
More information can be found at www.worldbank.org/gif.

Join the Global Infrastructure Forum 2016 which will bring together leaders of the multilateral development banks (MDBs), development partners and representatives of the G20, G24 and G77 to enhance multilateral collaborative mechanisms to improve infrastructure delivery globally. Watch the event live at 10 AM (ET) on Saturday 4/16 and follow the conversation on Twitter with #InvestInInfra.


Patricia Pena

Director General Economic Development, Global Affairs Canada

Laurence Carter

Senior Director, Public-Private Partnerships Group

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