Published on Voices

Clean energy lit the path for private infrastructure investments in 2023

This page in:
Clean energy lit the path for private infrastructure investments in 2023 Photo credit: Jenson, Shutterstock.

Infrastructure connects people to opportunities, promotes economic growth, and improves livelihoods.  When infrastructure is sustainable, it also lays the path for a more livable planet.

However, shifting toward greener infrastructure requires multiple trillions of dollars. With the reality of cash-strapped government budgets, private sector participation is an important solution to filling the financing gap.

At the World Bank, we’re pulling out all the stops to enable this transition and make it easier for the private sector to participate in development projects through our work on public-private partnerships, our overhauled guarantees program, and our grants to the world's poorest countries. A key tool in these efforts is our Private Participation in Infrastructure (PPI) report, the latest of which was released this week.

First published in 1984, the PPI report now tracks investments in 10,000 infrastructure projects in low- and middle-income countries. Pulling from the only database of its kind, the report is a vital resource for tracking progress and identifying trends, especially as infrastructure financing becomes a bigger priority for countries around the globe. It also offers a direct view into the regions and countries, as well as the sectors, receiving infrastructure investments, how these projects are structured, and what role multilateral development banks can best play in these contexts.

Our 2023 Private Participation in Infrastructure report finds that private infrastructure investment in low- and middle-income countries totaled $86 billion last year. While this is a 5 percent decline in total investments compared with 2022, when trends were looking more hopeful as we emerged from the pandemic, the numbers are on par with the previous five-year average.


Here are other key takeaways from our 2023 PPI report:

We saw an increase in the number of countries and projects receiving investments: Despite the decline in total investment, many more countries received private investments in infrastructure across a wider range of projects. In 2023, 68 countries received investments across 322 projects, compared to 54 countries and 260 projects in 2022. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a continuous increase in the number of countries reporting PPI transactions. Notably, Guinea Bissau, Libya, Papua New Guinea, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Suriname achieved their first PPI transactions in more than a decade.


While regional disparities remain, the MENA region saw a doubling of investments: Private infrastructure investments declined in most regions in 2023, except in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and East Asia and Pacific (EAP) regions. MENA continued its growth trajectory, with PPI investment levels doubling from $1.4 billion in 2022 to $2.9 billion in 2023. The EAP region returned to pre-pandemic levels of investment after a three-year lag as the region recovered from the effects of COVID-19.

The renewable energy sector leads the way, with a tripling of investments: In terms of sectoral trends, energy saw a threefold increase in investment levels in 2023, with most of this taking place in the EAP region. In line with the continued global push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change, 97 percent of electricity generation projects were renewable in 2023, compared to 93 percent in the previous five-year period.  At the country level, almost all countries reported 100 percent of their investments in renewable energy, with solar photovoltaic technology making up 41 percent of all power generation capacity in low- and middle-income countries. This was followed by wind technology as a cost-effective and reliable source of renewable energy at 29 percent, and hydropower at 17 percent.


A record number of projects in the poorest countries have been delivered: Twenty-six countries that are a member of the World Bank’s International Development Association received investment commitments amounting to $4.3 billion across 53 projects in 2023. This is an 18 percent increase since 2022 and a record number of projects.  This latest PPI report points to a mixed picture and makes it clear that more needs to be done to mobilize private participation in sustainable infrastructure and thus meet the very real needs of the world’s poorest.

This is why boosting private investment in infrastructure is an important part of the World Bank Evolution Roadmap, which calls for us to use our financing power strategically, especially in ways that leverage private sector partnerships. It takes creative approaches to build momentum, create bankable projects, and reduce investors’ exposure to risk.

We don’t have time to waste on these efforts. Our PPI Database combined with our advisory, convening, and financial services can propel us forward in helping to close the world’s infrastructure finance gap and move us closer toward greener infrastructure for all.

The PPI Database has data on over 10,000 infrastructure projects in 137 low- and middle-income countries from 1984 to the present. The database is the leading source of PPI trends in developing countries, covering projects in the energy, transport, water and sewage, information and communications technology, and municipal solid waste sectors.

Guangzhe Chen

Vice President for Infrastructure, The World Bank

Join the Conversation

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