The Global Infrastructure Facility: Closing the infrastructure gap by building country capacity


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Photo: paulisson miura | Flickr Creative Commons

It is well-established that the lack of infrastructure is one of the main problems facing developing countries. Good infrastructure is one of the most important drivers for development and competitiveness. The question that follows is straightforward: how can we mobilize private financing for high-quality infrastructure investment in these countries?
This is a topic of discussion in almost every seminar and event about development. Usually, the issue is left for resolution by the decision makers of developing countries. Despite the attention, however, discussion of inadequate infrastructure continues, with few good solutions reached.

I have observed that the problem of attracting private financing for infrastructure projects occupies a great deal of time. No doubt this is a big problem for developing countries, but there is another factor which, if not considered, can make the availability of funds irrelevant. This is the capacity at the country level to conduct long-term planning and to properly structure infrastructure projects. Many countries do not pay enough attention to addressing these capacity limitations , and consequently, their attempts to accelerate infrastructure investment frequently lead to poor results.

The need to plan and prepare good projects before making the decision to invest in infrastructure may seem obvious, but frequently is not carried out appropriately.

In my view, this happens partly because the time required for the planning, project structuring and execution phases of most infrastructure projects often exceeds a single political mandate. As politicians are the decision-makers for infrastructure investment, many do not see any benefit to beginning projects that will probably not be completed within their own political cycles.

Finding ways to break this vicious cycle is an invaluable contribution provided by the Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF). By supporting the efforts of developing country governments with planning and project structuring, the GIF is making it possible to implement important infrastructure projects while also building the necessary in-country capacity to develop this work in the future. This is one way the GIF’s contribution is helping to close the infrastructure gap.  

On a final note, I am happy to have had the opportunity to participate on the GIF’s Governing Council over the last year as the representative of Brazil, one of three developing country Beneficiary Partners of the GIF. I recognize the great value of the GIF in making infrastructure investment in developing countries more attractive to the private sector and look forward to its continued success.

We look forward to hear from you: Flagging a new World Bank Group consultation on the Guidelines for the Development of a Policy for Managing Unsolicited Proposals in Infrastructure Projects. Submit your feedback here - Now open through May 7, 2017.


Henrique Pinto

Secretary of Public Policy Coordination, Investment Partnerships Program, Presidency of the Republic of Brazil

Ibrahim Sadiq
April 26, 2017

Well said,politicians particularly in developing country pay less attention to infrastructure project planning and structuring as they are more interested in physical completion and operation of their project within their political cycle,which very often leads to project failure or loss of value for money. Supporting capacity building by development partners will encourage building pipelines of bankable projects which will meet meet the need for quick project preparation since political support is necessary for the success of most infrastructure project.

Ghulam Murtaza
April 27, 2017

Planning and struturing of pppps must be given higher importance. Funds allocation and implementation time should be settled well in advance with broader consensus of all political parties. All possible measures be ensured for corruption free investments.

Ghulam Murtaza
April 27, 2017

Planning and struturing of pppps must be given higher importance. Funds allocation and implementation time should be loo settled well in advance with broader consensus of all political parties. All possible measures be ensured for corruption free investments.

Ed Bourque
April 27, 2017

It would be great if infrastructure would be apolitical, but sadly, it is. Ribbon cutting ceremonies really boost the image of politicians.
In the water and sanitation sector, I wonder to what extent project planning isn't already happening. Surely the utility managers know the capacities and limitations of their plants and where wastewater treatment or water supply is needed has got to be known at the ministry level.
You are right about the timeline. Even if the finance is available for such a project, the project would take so long that the ribbon cutting ceremony may benefit the next minister/politician.. and what good does that do for those currently in power?!

Lanre Ayoade
April 27, 2017

I belong to a group of professionals trying to bridge the perennial disconnect between the Nigerian political class and not only the people but also the reality of the necessity to bridge yawning infrastructural gap. We live among the masses, the everyday people, and as such, share their yawning for a dignified productive existence. So wr have decided to apply our skills and knowledge to provide the necessary intellectual interface between the political class and the masses. Based on our practical experience of daily life of huge mobile population in the major cities in Nigeria we have come to the conclusion that there is the urgent need to expand the economic space. This is largely infrastructure focused. To this end we created a series of niche industrial cities with vision to expand the economic space not only in Nigeria but also across West Africa, bearing in mind the strategic position Nigeria holds in the region.
In our several attmpts at interface with the Government we have always met one brick wall, facility. How can we get GIF to intervened? How do we connect and synergize with GIF?
Let it be noted here that for a relative peace earth the global economy need to stand solidly on a tripod consisting of Asia, America &Europe and Africa. Asia is standing, America & Europe axis is standing, but Africa need fixing urgently in the collective interest of mankind. It is clear for instance that the burden of influx of immigrants, that has recently taken epidemic proportion, is getting unbearable for America and Europe. Meanwhile millions of Africans, especially the highly mobile population, are perishing daily in desperate attempt to cross the desert and Mediterranean Sea in pursuit of a dignified productive existence. Yet there is hope for such in Africa provided we create the necessary global synergy in which money and technology find expression in Africa. A golden era of collective prosperity on earth is possible. Lets fix the third tripod. Let fix Africa.

April 27, 2017

Out sourcing can solve some capacity problems. Local leadership support and commitment to the project ideals is essential; working together with local partners, communities in some cases. The reality is that many times, those who conceived or developed the project concepts and participated in the kicking off the project are not given a chance, they are either not listened to or are quickly removed once funding has been secured. The PPP arrangement is good, but it is not one size fits all. Complex projects, and projects in difficulty social and political settings need additional input-going back to the rent seeking Politicians and the morbid bureaucracy. These problems can be minimised right from project inception, constituting teams with the necessary technical knowledge, and ability to navigate the murky waters of African Politics, of nepotism and grand theft. Phasing out projects is another possible thing to do. The politics and bureaucracy surrounding funding needs some sorting out too.All in all Porjects on paper have fewer enemies, because few really care to read and internalize project documents; but on the ground once the projects pick up, many interests and project enemies emerge; so managing expectations becomes a full time preoccupation in some instances.

Wali Chandio
April 28, 2017

Make the duration of projects compatible with the political cycle. By doing that, the outcome of the projects may be achieved without the key stakolders disengagement.

May 01, 2017

world bank has tried much more to Inject in several projects but most leaders use that funds in their own benifits

Mujunga Cornelius
May 03, 2017

The Article is on point. We are most likely to underestimate the ego of the political class during strategic planning. Africa is most affected by this.

richard rwatooro baguma
May 16, 2017

your article is spot on. i hasten to add that uganda and brazil are worlds apart interms of infrastructure development however Uganda beats brazil in procurement malpractice, policy support instruments are non existent in our infrastructure development strategy consider for instance the standard guage railway project at 4.3 billion US dollars financed by China under a PPP arrangement in its protocol the public procurement disposal of assets ppda a regulatory body for the government is not involved anywhere! am sure you doubt but i have this verbatim from the executive director of the body in a an anti coruption forum we had at hotel africana in kampala organised by anti corruption coalition of uganda. secondly civil society organisations have not been considered either in the protocol or the consultative processes yet they have the eyes and ear of the common man this and other challenges put us as a country in a stone age era yet we sing modernity.

Scott Carpenter
June 28, 2017

Is the author or any astute observers here aware of any studies showing a link between political cycles and capacity to undertake infrastructure projects?