‘Are we there yet?’ On a long road trip, perhaps you’ve asked or heard this question.
Let’s direct this question to the state of urban flood risk management in Pacific Island countries. In this case, the ‘destination’ is flood-resilient communities.
For Pacific Island countries, no, we’re not there yet, but are we heading in the right direction?
Source: Getty Images/Sam Edwards.
In Africa, estimates indicate that an annual investment of $93 billion is required to address the continent’s basic infrastructure needs – more than double the current level of investment.
The lack of productive investment of resource revenues, with spending of these revenues often heavily tilted towards consumption, is a critical component of the so-called resource curse, the observation that countries rich in natural resources frequently have slow long-term growth. Following oil or mineral discoveries, as the expectation of increased wealth spreads, pressures to spend typically become hard for politicians to resist, public sector salaries go through the roof, wasteful spending increases, corruption may flourish, hidden foreign bank accounts may be established, and the number of unproductive “white elephant” projects grows.
How can resource-rich countries ensure that a large share of oil, gas, and mining revenues are used for productive investment rather than excessive or wasteful consumption?
But this entrepreneurial city cannot afford to be stuck in traffic. Things started moving in 2008, when Lagos introduced Africa's first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor with technical support from the World Bank under the Lagos Urban Transport Project. The corridor was referred to as BRT-lite, a local adaptation that did not apply all the "classical" features of a BRT (level loading, fancy stations) but was well integrated with the local environment and became immediately successful. In fact, the operator was able to recoup its capital investment in the bus fleet in 18 months even without banning competitor services. The BRT services demonstrated that improving the erstwhile chaotic system was indeed possible.
Building on this success, Lagos has taken steps to improve and expand the reach of the BRT. The Second Lagos Urban Transport Project (LUTP2), supported jointly by the World Bank and the French Development Agency, provided about $325 million in 2009 toward building a 13-km extension of the BRT corridor between Mile 12 and the satellite town of Ikorodu. In addition to the BRT infrastructure, the project financed the rehabilitation and widening of the road from four to six lanes, the construction of pedestrian overpasses, a bus depot, terminals, a road bridge, measures to enhance flood resilience, as well as improved interchange and transfer facilities.
Niger is one of the world’s poorest countries (44.5% of poverty incidence in 2014). The country faces a number of challenges in meeting the national (PROSEHA, the National Program for sustainable development) and global targets to increase access to sanitation and potable water, particularly in rural areas where the access to water is 44.2% and 7% for sanitation (2015 Ministry of Water and Sanitation data).
Overcoming these challenges while satisfying increasing demands for better or expanded service, the government began investigating options that bring in the know-how of the private sector. This has led to a growing domestic private sector provision of services in Niger.
I’m no stranger to either platform. I get most of my news through Twitter, and my daughter sends me messages from class on Hangouts (hi dady [sic], school is sooooo boring :P).
This time, however, I was engaging with giants of the public-private partnership (PPP) universe. Laurence Carter, the Senior Director of the World Bank Group’s PPP Group, moderated a panel of seasoned experts from EBRD, the Indian School of Business, and Meridiam, an investor in infrastructure. Together they provided perspectives on PPPs from international financial institutions, academia and the private sector. I joined about 200 other people from around the world and watched it live. But something was different: you could interact with the panel from afar and ask questions via Twitter using the hashtag #PPPMOOC (go check it out).
I was aching to test the system, so I tweeted a question about the value of small PPPs at the municipal level, like the Malyn Biofuel PPP I blogged about recently. I could hardly believe it when Laurence asked the panel for their views on the subject. How incredible: from Ukraine, I was influencing the course of discussion of a panel of PPP experts in London! They talked about it for five minutes and offered some valuable insights.
Kazakh scientists navigate this winding, unpredictable road for years and generally come to the realization that great scientific research is not enough in itself. Too often, they face a lack of support when it comes to applying the results of their scientific research in a useful, practical way.
Fortunately, a team of Kazakh scientists at the Private Entity Institute of Polymer Materials and Technology in Almaty has had a somewhat more positive experience. This team has been working on a truly innovative project: developing a solution to improving the recovery of oil from old oil wells in Kazakhstan.
But why, you might ask?