Photo: auphoto / Shutterstock.com
As Washington, D.C.’s infrastructure braces for its first winter freeze and 2017 draws to a close, this feels like the right moment for a recap on what the year has brought us in terms of closing the infrastructure gap across emerging markets and developing economies; policy directions within and outside of the World Bank Group; new instruments, tools, and resources; and—the proof in the pudding—actual investment levels.
There may not be one blog that can capture all of those themes in detail, but here is a brief overview of what 2017 has meant and what is on the docket for 2018 and beyond.
Global Infrastructure Facility
Photo: LWYang | Flickr Creative Commons
Since the 1980s, investment in Brazil’s infrastructure has declined from 5% to a little above 2% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), scarcely enough to cover depreciation and far below that of most middle-income countries (see figure below). The result is a substantial infrastructure gap. Over the same period, Brazil has struggled with stagnant productivity growth. The poor status of infrastructure is broadly believed to be a key reason for Brazil’s growth malaise.
Photo: Ashim D'silva | Unsplash
From “Billions to Trillions”, to the Hamburg Principles and Ambitions, to Maximizing Finance for Development (MFD), Realizing that constrained public and multilateral development bank (MDB) funding cannot fully address the critical challenges that developing nations face, the World Bank Group is pursuing private sector solutions whenever they can help achieve development goals, in order to reserve scarce public finance for when it’s needed most. This is especially true in the delivery of infrastructure.
Photo: totojang1977 / Shutterstock.com
In my last blog, I compared Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) with marriage. I had explained that, though very different, the public and private can come together as they each possess characteristics beneficial to the other. Great in theory, but often difficult in practice.
Critics of PPPs abound and listing them here would be impractical. But whether they are auditors, civil society or within the World Bank Group, critics help us improve. We try to respond to our critics, including through blogs such as this one.
At the Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF) Advisory Council Meeting in March, we talked about construction risk and the way it shapes the delivery environment early in a project’s investment life. As a practicing engineer accustomed to attacking construction risk at the granular level, I enjoyed the broader discussion, particularly from the banking and credit perspective (meeting outcomes).
Unfortunately, construction risk realization will continue to be the norm. Perhaps we need to consider taking the longer view to reach potential investors by aligning the risk environment with risk tolerance.
Here are three ways to do this:
What are the key considerations for a public authority when drafting a Force Majeure provision in a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) contract? What are the differences between emerging and developed PPP markets in treating Change in Law clauses? And are there particular legal matters that need to be contemplated in a civil law jurisdiction rather than in a common law country when dealing with termination payments under a PPP agreement?
These are only some of the questions the World Bank Group’s recently-published Guidance on PPP Contractual Provisions, 2017 edition aims to address for the benefit of public authorities (contracting authorities) involved in PPPs. This blog is the first in a series of posts that will discuss and explore the issues covered in the 2017 Guidance.
Photo: Japanexperterna | Flickr Creative Commons
The world is crying out for new infrastructure. In emerging market countries, growing populations and rapid urbanization mean that cities are struggling to keep pace with the needs of citizens. Meanwhile, infrastructure is outdated in many developed countries.
Yet there is a $1 trillion annual shortfall in infrastructure investment, mostly in emerging markets. At the same time, there are billions of dollars in debt capital seeking secure and healthy returns.
Given the long-term, stable cash flows of many infrastructure projects, it seems the perfect destination for such capital. But in large part, this investment is not taking place. What will it take to increase the supply of well-structured projects?
Photo: Roberto Maldeno | Flickr Creative Commons
Infrastructure in Ukraine, Europe’s largest country, is extremely underdeveloped. Without significant investment, it cannot support the existing or future needs of our economy or population. The reasons are many: decades of mismanagement under Soviet rule, economic crisis, and more recently, the conflict in the Donbass. Given that these constraints go beyond a simple lack of funding, our government is partnering with the Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF), as well as other international partners such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank.
"It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so."
– “The Big Short”
Forecasting traffic accurately is a very difficult and thankless task, as I explained in my previous blog: Traffic Risk in Highway PPPs, Part I: Traffic Forecasting. As such, this gives rise to very real financial risks if these forecasts turn out to be wrong. This risk has crystallized many times as manifested in high-profile distressed projects, bankruptcies, renegotiations and bailouts.
So what’s driving the inaccuracy and resulting risk in traffic forecasts? In the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) and Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF) publication, Toll Road PPPs: Identifying, Mitigating and Managing Traffic Risk, we postulate that forecasting inaccuracy comes from three sources:
Photo: Jorge Franganillo | Flickr Creative Commons
This is the first of a three-part series on traffic risk in PPPs
"Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future."
– Professor Nils Bohr, Nobel Laureate
Professor Bohr was right: prediction is hard work. As a species, we don’t have difficulty making predictions. I, for one, frequently make doom-laden predictions on a diverse range of subjects ranging from politics to the fortunes of my beloved football team, Liverpool Football Club.
No, the problem is that humans, as a rule, are not very good at predictions. Sadly, that illusive ‘crystal ball’ still has not been invented. And the sheer complexity of living on an ever-changing and evolving planet alongside 7 billion equally complex individuals—all making unique but increasingly interdependent decisions—makes even the most straightforward predictions difficult.