The participants of the second Regional Roundtable on Infrastructure Governance held in Côte D’Ivoire last week reinforced the need for good governance across all stages of infrastructure delivery. The Regional Roundtable was the second of its kind, with the first held in South Africa in November 2017.
Talk of trade tariffs and heightened geopolitical tensions are dominating news headlines recently. As developed economies consider escalating protectionist policies, it’s easy to forget about the situation many emerging markets face.
Over the last decade, much has been written about globalisation and how we’re more connected than ever before. In the infrastructure world, we think of connectivity as the “linkages of communities, economies and nations through transport, communications, energy, and water networks across a number of countries” .
As outlined earlier in this blog series, private investors are looking for reliable returns to justify the risks that they are taking. Financing and procurement of cross-border projects will often be more complex than national projects due to the scale of the project and compounded risks, and the financial returns may be more uncertain than for national projects.
Risks can be hard to define, manage and mitigate. In infrastructure projects that cross regional or national borders and involve multiple parties from both the public and private sector, these risks may be amplified.
Disputes in public-private partnerships (PPPs) globally involving key performance indicators (KPIs) represent 20 per cent of all disputes, as highlighted in our data using a representative sample of projects from around the world.
When we as consumers decide to invest our money—whether through shares, bonds, or other instruments—we look at whether our investment will deliver a solid financial return. It makes sense then that the same risk-return principle is applied to investments in infrastructure.
Infrastructure can often be used as a pawn in the political chess game, not only at a federal level between political parties, but at a foreign policy level too. It’s crucial that a cross-border infrastructure project has political support and cooperation from all parties involved, and that it’s being supported not for political gain, but to further regional development. A lack of strong political leadership can be detrimental to a cross-border project, and weak capacity can be a deterrent to investors.
With a growing global focus on attracting private sector investment into infrastructure and utilising the public-private partnership (PPP) model, it is crucial that governments focus on the entire duration of a PPP contract. Efforts need to extend beyond ‘achieving financial close’ and beginning construction or ‘cutting the ribbon’ for commencement of services.