Asia Infrastructure Needs Exceed $1.7 Trillion Per Year, Double Previous Estimates
Infrastructure needs in developing Asia and the Pacific will exceed $22.6 trillion through 2030, or $1.5 trillion per year, if the region is to maintain growth momentum, according to a new flagship report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The estimates rise to over $26 trillion, or $1.7 trillion per year, when climate change mitigation and adaptation costs are incorporated.
The report, Meeting Asia’s Infrastructure Needs, focuses on the region’s power, transport, telecommunications, and water and sanitation infrastructure. It comprehensively examines current infrastructure stocks and investments, future investment needs, and financing mechanisms for developing Asia.
“The demand for infrastructure across Asia and the Pacific far outstrips current supply,” said ADB President Takehiko Nakao. “Asia needs new and upgraded infrastructure that will set the standard for quality, encourage economic growth, and respond to the pressing global challenge that is climate change.”
Infrastructure development in the 45 countries covered in the report has grown dramatically in recent decades — spurring growth, reducing poverty, and improving people’s lives. But a substantial infrastructure gap remains, with over 400 million people still lacking electricity, 300 million without access to safe drinking water, and about 1.5 billion lacking access to basic sanitation. Many economies in the region lack adequate ports, railways, and roads that could connect them efficiently to larger domestic and global markets.
“ADB pledges to work with member countries and use our 50 years of experience and expertise to meet infrastructure needs in the region. As the private sector is crucial to fill infrastructure gaps, ADB will promote investment friendly policies and regulatory and institutional reforms to develop bankable project pipelines for public-private partnerships,” said Mr. Nakao.
• Developing Asia will need to invest $26 trillion from 2016 to 2030, or $1.7 trillion per year, if the region is to maintain its growth momentum, eradicate poverty, and respond to climate change (climate-adjusted estimate). Without climate change mitigation and adaptation costs, $22.6 trillion will be needed, or $1.5 trillion per year (baseline estimate).
• Of the total climate-adjusted investment needs over 2016-2030, $14.7 trillion will be for power and $8.4 trillion for transport. Investments in telecommunications will reach $2.3 trillion, with water and sanitation costs at $800 billion over the period.
• East Asia will account for 61% of climate-adjusted investment needs through 2030. As a percentage of GDP, however, the Pacific leads all other sub-regions, requiring investments valued at 9.1% of GDP. This is followed by South Asia at 8.8%, Central Asia at 7.8%, Southeast Asia at 5.7%, and East Asia at 5.2% of GDP.
• The $1.7 trillion annual climate-adjusted estimate is more than double the $750 billion ADB estimated in 2009. The inclusion of climate-related investments is a major contributing factor. An even more important factor is the continued rapid growth forecasted for the region, which generates new infrastructure demand. The inclusion of all 45 ADB member countries in developing Asia, compared to 32 in the 2009 report, and the use of 2015 prices versus 2008 prices also explain the increase.
• Currently, the region annually invests an estimated $881 billion in infrastructure (for 25 economies with adequate data, comprising 96% of the region’s population). The infrastructure investment gap — the difference between investment needs and current investment levels — equals 2.4% of projected GDP (climate-adjusted) for the 5-year period from 2016 to 2020.
• The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has a gap of 1.2% of GDP in the climate-adjusted scenario. Without the PRC, the gap rises to a much higher 5% of the remaining 24 economies’ projected GDP. Public finance reforms could generate additional revenues estimated to bridge around 40% of the gap (or 2% of GDP) for these 24 economies. For the private sector to fill the remaining gap (3% of GDP), it would have to increase investments from about $63 billion today to as high as $250 billion a year over 2016-2020.
• Regulatory and institutional reforms are needed to make infrastructure more attractive to private investors and generate a pipeline of bankable projects for public-private partnerships (PPPs). Countries should implement PPP-related reforms such as enacting PPP laws, streamlining PPP procurement and bidding processes, introducing dispute resolution mechanisms, and establishing independent PPP government units. Deepening of capital markets is also needed to help channel the region’s substantial savings into productive infrastructure investment.
• Multilateral development banks (MDB) have financed an estimated 2.5% of infrastructure investments in developing Asia. Excluding the PRC and India, MDB contributions rise above 10%. A growing proportion of ADB finance is now going to private sector infrastructure projects. Beyond finance, ADB is playing an important role in Asia by sharing expertise and knowledge to identify, design, and implement good projects. ADB is scaling up operations, integrating more advanced and cleaner technology into projects and streamlining procedures. ADB will also promote investment friendly policies and regulatory and institutional reforms.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region.