Asia needs to invest $750 bn/yr in infrastructure

Asia needs to invest about $750 billion per year in infrastructure from 2010 to 2020 to meet the strong growth of populations and economies.

The top United Nations official in Asia and the Pacific today urged governments in the region to develop stronger ties with the private sector to spur economic growth and provide better services to the public through improved infrastructure.

“Efficient economic and social infrastructure and services, and enhanced national and regional connectivity can have a major role to play in helping countries emerge from this latest [financial] crisis stronger and in a better position to promote development for all,” said Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP ).

Heyzer was speaking at a ministerial conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, on public-private partnerships for infrastructure development.

The meeting was the culmination of a four-day event that drew more than 1,300 delegates, including representatives of the World Bank, MEC Holdings, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Export-Import Bank of the United States, General Electric and Intel Corporation, and nearly two dozen government ministers from countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said in his opening speech to the “Infrastructure Asia 2010 Conference” on Thursday that infrastructure development is an important way of improving people”s welfare.

Heyzer noted that new drivers of growth based on increasing intra-regional trade – especially with larger markets within Asia – are now emerging strongly, but there is a “desperate need” for more investment in capacity and services.

“Asia needs to invest about $750 billion per year in infrastructure from 2010 to 2020 to meet the strong growth of populations and economies,” she stated, adding that the challenge demands a shared approach between the public and private sectors.

She noted that countries in the region still faced a number of hindrances to public-private partnerships in infrastructure development, including a lack of awareness among government officials.

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