Having what it takes to develop infrastructure

Australia’s involvement in the Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF)—as a founding member, and co-chair of the advisory council over the past year—underscores our commitment to lift investment in global infrastructure, which is a critical component to ensuring economic growth and poverty alleviation.

Strong economic infrastructure underpins human development, enables movement of people and goods, provides access to and expands markets and services, facilitates innovation, and enhances competitiveness.

We know that in order to meet the world’s significant infrastructure needs, we must catalyze more private investment in infrastructure. We also know this can be challenging in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs), where capacity to prepare viable projects may be limited and risk may be harder to mitigate.

The GIF was set up to help address these challenges and contribute to a global pipeline of well-structured, investment-ready infrastructure projects.

As of the end of March 2018, the GIF had approved 38 projects, dedicating $28.8 million of GIF funds.  These funds are expected to unlock a further $33 billion in total investment, of which potentially $19 billion is private investment.

This is a good start. I would like to highlight three areas where the GIF’s way of operating can further unlock the potential for greater private investment in infrastructure in EMDEs and advance inclusive and sustainable development.

  1. GIF as a global ‘collaborating platform’: the GIF plays an important role in coordinating the many stakeholders involved in infrastructure development—for example, national governments, technical partners (multilateral development banks) working to develop projects, private sector partners looking for investment opportunities, donors, and others. If it can do this successfully, the GIF will prove immensely valuable in ensuring that projects are structured and risks appropriately allocated to maximize the prospects of private sector participation.
  2. GIF as a ‘standard setter’: Poorly-prepared projects, the lack of a consistent deal flow, and an absence of agreed standards, hinder the flow of investment into EMDE infrastructure.  We will never escape the fact that each project will require a degree of customized preparation efforts. Yet, applying well-designed standardized approaches can lead to significant benefits. Standardized approaches reduce project preparation costs, mitigate capacity constraints within procuring authorities, lower costs for interested bidders, reduce the project risks and improve the long-term sustainability of investments for users, the government, and private sector partners. In its project support activities, the GIF will seek to maximize the use of existing project preparation tools and efforts, ensure their appropriate application where needed, and help their technical partners to do the same.
  3. GIF as a ‘convener committed to sustainable outcomes’:  Inclusive and sustainable development is at the forefront of the GIF’s contribution to the global infrastructure project pipeline. By evaluating projects for their potential climate change mitigation and resilience-building potential, the GIF is helping countries transition to a lower carbon future. Similarly, the GIF recently began to develop an approach to promoting gender equality efforts through its work. Australia welcomes this effort by the GIF to better mainstream gender considerations across all parts of the project cycle with which it is involved. By aligning funding priorities with goals such as climate and gender—above and beyond driving funding to EMDE infrastructure—the GIF will play a more transformational and positive role in infrastructure project preparation.

It was a pleasure to have co-chaired the GlF. Australia looks forward to working with Singapore as co-chair from April 2018 to further advance the GIF’s objectives and work program.

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