New data reveals uptick in private investment in EMDEs in 2017

This page in:
Also available in: Español | Français 

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.  

In addition to energy, transport, and water & sewerage, the PPI Database, starting in 2017, reports on a new sector—information and communication technologies (ICT) backbone . ICT backbone includes fiber optic cables, mobile towers and other hard assets with an active government component. Tracking private investment in this sector will be increasingly important due to the critical role that ICT plays in development. With some seven billion mobile connections and a 60 percent coverage in terms of 3G networks worldwide, the ICT sector is critical for disruptive innovation and for leapfrogging development and enhancing the impact under the Forth Industrial Revolution.

Megaprojects, more countries and more government support fueled PPI in 2017

The recently-launched data from the PPI Database for the year 2017 marks an increase of 37 percent in investment levels from 2016 levels . Yet, it remains the second lowest level of investment in the past 10 years and is 15 percent lower than the past 5-year average investment level. On closer examination, the increase over 2016 levels is attributable to a few megaprojects in China and Indonesia as well as a recovery in South Asia, led mainly by Pakistan. Also notable is the fact that the average project size increased by 26 percent in 2017, with some 20 megaprojects averaging $2.4 billion per project and accounting for 51 percent of the total PPI investment.
The upward turn in investment levels in 2017 is certainly positively correlated with the increase in government support to projects, signifying the important role played by government policy, regulation, governance and transparency in encouraging greater private participation in infrastructure. Government support to projects increased from 94 projects in 2016 to 135 in 2017. It should be noted that the declining share of government support to projects corresponded to the decline in investment levels from 2012 to 2016.
East Asia and the Pacific lead PPI globally, while energy dominates sectoral investments
The East Asia and Pacific region received the highest level of investment, while Latin America and the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa received the lowest and the second-lowest level of investment in the past 10 years, respectively. With $49 billion, East Asia and Pacific accounted for more than half of the total PPI investment, and overtook Latin America and the Caribbean for the first time .
Energy continues to dominate sectoral investments, but transport investments doubled with three railway megaprojects, and the newly introduced ICT backbone also saw a sharp increase . The transport sector investments almost doubled from $18.8 billion in 2016 to $36.5 billion in 2017, largely due to mega-projects such as the $6.8 billion worth high-speed railway (HSR) project in China, another $6.0 billion HSR project in Indonesia and a $3.1 billion monorail project in Thailand. For ICT backbone sector, the investments grew from only $462 million in 2016 to $3.0 billion in 2017 due to two megaprojects in network infrastructure development.
How different countries fared in 2017

Other characteristics of 2017 private infrastructure investments in EMDEs
  • Renewables continue to increase in numbers in 2017 but saw a drop in the share of electricity generation investment due to coal megaprojects in Indonesia worth $7.7 billion. Of the 197 electricity generation projects in 2017, 173 projects (88 percent) are renewable energy projects. Notably, the share of renewable energy investment in 2017 dropped to 57 percent from the past five-year average of 64 percent.
  • Of the total investment, 70 percent was debt-financed, with 24 percent of debt raised from bilateral providers and 22 percent from commercial debt providers. Fifty-five percent of the debt raised was from international sources. Private sources financed 45 percent of investments, public sources financed 25 percent, and development finance institutional sources—30 percent.
On the one hand there is every reason to be optimistic, private investment in infrastructure in EMDEs is showing signs of recovery. But on the other, whether or not this was a one-off spike fueled by a few megaprojects and favorable policy regimes in some countries—only time will tell. Stay tuned to the PPI database site for more updates on private investment levels in EMDEs.

Download the  2017 Private Participation in Infrastructure Annual Report.

The PPI Database is a product of the Infrastructure, PPPs & Guarantees (IPG) Group  and is managed by the World Bank Group Singapore Hub for Infrastructure and Urban Development. It the most comprehensive database of private investments in infrastructure in the developing world. This endeavor was carried out by the PPI Database team led by Deblina Saha and comprising Seong Ho Hong, Alex Shao, Akhilesh Modi, and Iuliia Zemlytska.

Related posts:
Behold the White Knights! New research on institutional investor participation in financing EMDE infrastructure
Low-carbon infrastructure: an essential solution to climate change?
Farewell 2017; Hello to More and Better Infrastructure in 2018
Slight bump in half-year private investment in infrastructure: a sign of recovery?



Deblina Saha

Infrastructure Specialist, Infrastructure Finance, PPPs and Guarantees (IPG) Group

Abha Joshi-Ghani

Senior Adviser, Infrastructure Finance, PPPs & Guarantees, The World Bank

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000