The CAREC Institute in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) delivered a virtual workshop titled Unlocking Private Investments in Sustainable Infrastructure in Asia: Lessons from Central Asia targeting senior government officials/experts from investment related ministries/agencies of all CAREC countries. The four-day capacity building event was held during 23, 24, 30 September, 1 October 2020 online through a Zoom platform.
According to ADB (Meeting Asia’s Infrastructure Needs, 2017), “developing Asia will need to invest $26 trillion from 2016 to 2030, or ca. $1.7 trillion per year if the region is to maintain its growth momentum, eradicate poverty, and respond to climate change.” After extracting the “climate-adjusted estimate,” the investment demand stands at $22.6 trillion. The overall estimated investment of $14.7 trillion is deemed necessary for power, $8.4 trillion for transport, $2.3 trillion for telecommunications, and $800 billion for water and sanitation until 2030.
When looking beyond 2020, ADB identified infrastructure investment needs in its Operational Plan for Regional Cooperation and Integration (ADB, 2016) for several sub-regional cross-border programs including the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program where the number stood at $79.7 billion, including $37.5 billion for the transport sector, $1.3 billion for trade facilitation and $40.9 billion for energy.
Workshop presentations included topics of infrastructure investment and managerial oversight, transition pathways, Silk Road smart cities, the role of tax incentives in attracting private sector in infrastructure investment, perspectives from a Pan-Asian natural gas trade model, models of local public financing for infrastructural investment, patterns of financing of logistics infrastructure, increasing infrastructure investment with spillover tax revenues, evidence based infrastructure financing: case of Uzbekistan, scope for PPPs in renewable energy projects, CAREC country updates, and more.
Keynote speaker Ramin Jahanbegloo, Director of Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Peace and Nonviolence, and Vice Dean of School of Law of Jindal Global University, underscored importance of “civic education” meaning adult learning for social, political, and economic engagement and responsibilities in the betterment of a community. He emphasized that embedding this mode of thinking in the structure of relations between private and public interests could help citizens and members of a community trust that a State will meet their obligations and expectations.
The workshop participants discussed the demand; lack of public funding; specifics of insurance companies and pension funds; short-, medium- and long-term investment horizons, and innovative and practical schemes of infrastructure refinancing and attracting private investment for sustainable development. Policymakers had an opportunity to engage with field experts to seek guidance for informed decision making.