IFC Discusses Transformational Infrastructure at Summit
In December 2011, the transformational impact of
infrastructure development for low- and middle-income countries was brought to
light at the World Infrastructure Summit, a gathering of sponsors, developers, financiers, and key government figures involved
in the sector across the globe.
“Many governments have not yet exhausted all the
opportunities that are available to allow the private sector to commercially
provide the full range of infrastructure services”, Gulrez Hoda, IFC Director
for Infrastructure in Southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
Citing IFC’s extensive experience in infrastructure
development, Hoda highlighted the role played by private enterprise in the
sector, where a mixture of public and private investment has spurred growth in
the most successful developing countries. He added that fresh approaches and
financing for infrastructure has emerged from middle income countries, such as
Brazil, China, India and Turkey, where IFC has considerable investments.
Hoda emphasized the impact of the revolution in
telecommunications saying, “Years, or possibly decades of waiting for access to
high-cost telecoms services have been replaced with low-cost, high quality
choices that are easily accessible.”
The combination of new technology and the rapid reduction in
costs, combined with risk-taking entrepreneurship has opened new avenues for the
use of telecommunications, including access to information that empowers
farmers to negotiate for better prices for their produce with middlemen.
The conference also discussed new roles for multilaterals in
infrastructure development in the changing economic environment.Brian Casabianca, Senior Strategy Officer
with the Infrastructure Department highlighted the strong need from commercial
banks for international financial institutions to help reduce the risk profile
of infrastructure investments in emerging market countries.
“2012 will be a rollercoaster year for infrastructure
financing according to commercial banks and developers, and multilateral
development banks will be needed more than ever to provide comfort, and the
stamp of approval for project and corporate financing.”