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What is the global infrastructure-financing gap?

The Global Bank has estimated that an additional US$1 trillion per annum to 2020 is required by developing countries to keep pace with consumer and producer demand for infrastructure. To keep pace with projected global GDP growth, the infrastructure financing gap increases to an estimated US$57 trillion over the period to 2030 (MDB Working Group on Infrastructure, 2011). Alternatively, the World Economic Forum estimates that close to US$2 trillion per annum will be required to meet the infrastructure needs of developing economies by 2030 (WEF, 2012).

By consensus estimates from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to the Boston Consulting Group and the World Bank Group, the estimated annual global infrastructure investment need is about US$3.7 trillion – of which only about $2.7 trillion is currently met on an annual basis. The figure does not include ‘development goals’ and emerging market economies (EMEs) would need an additional US$1 trillion per year until 2020 just to keep pace with the demands of urbanisation, growth, climate change and global integration.

This much-discussed “infrastructure gap” is large and it is widening. Even if fiscal conditions in developed and emerging economies improve, the need introduced by the infrastructure financing gap is unlikely to be met from public sources alone. This generates an expectation that private capital and user charges must be mobilized to fill these gaps.

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