Opening Address by Christine Wong, Deputy Executive Director, Infrastructure Asia at Growing Infrastructure Course (GIC) R5M2 on 10 October 2022
Prof Phang Sock Yong, Celia Moh Chair Professor of Economics at Singapore Management University,
Dr Flocy Joseph, Senior Deputy Director, Head of Commercial, Executive Development at Singapore Management University,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good morning, everyone. I am delighted to join you on the first day of the “Growing Infrastructure Course on Enabling and Structuring for Private Sector Participation in Finance and Innovation”.
2. A very warm welcome to all of you to Singapore, or welcome back, to those of you who joined us for Module 1 last month. You are the second cohort of participants attending this course in-person, since the first 4 runs had to be conducted online. I trust that the face-to-face interactions will make this a much more engaging and meaningful experience.
3. The Growing Infrastructure Course is a bespoke programme that combines the strengths of Infrastructure Asia, the World Bank Group, and the Singapore Management University. For Infrastructure Asia, it is our extensive connections to infrastructure ecosystems in Singapore and the region. For the World Bank Group, its global development expertise, and for SMU, its technical and professional knowledge. Together, we aim to deliver an insightful and practical programme over the next five days.
Uplifting the region’s competency in preparing bankable infrastructure projects
4. To date, more than 190 regional government officials across 12 countries in South and Southeast Asia have participated in this course. Seeing all of you here from various ministries and implementing agencies from Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Nepal signals a strong commitment to advancing infrastructure projects in your countries.
5. This course was designed to support the regional infrastructure scene by developing capabilities in the latest developments and offerings in the infrastructure space. The course will also develop the region’s competency to better prepare infrastructure projects for private sector involvement, and will assist in sourcing for international and private sector financing and innovation.
PPPs are key to accelerating sustainable transportation and urban development infrastructure development in the region
6. International and private sector participation are especially important in the aftermath of Covid-19. Even before the pandemic, Asia had an estimated infrastructure gap of USD 1.7 trillion1 per annum. Focusing on transport infrastructure alone, ADB estimates that $8.4 trillion dollars' worth of investment is required between 2016 to 20302. These figures will likely be higher when we factor in crucial measures for climate mitigation and systems resiliency. Evidently, there is an urgent need for international and private sector contributions to infrastructure projects.
7. Private sector capital is also keen to come in to fill this gap. There is no shortage of long-term capital ready to be invested in well-structured infrastructure projects. We are seeing global asset owners channel capital into infrastructure projects with sustainable development outcomes in Asia Pacific, including transportation projects. The key is to enable equitable risk allocations such that we can attract this private sector capital.
8. There is a pressing need to scale up critical transportation infrastructure. According to the World Bank Group, one billion people around the world still live more than 2 kilometers away from an all-weather road3. This lack of access hinders economic growth, job creation and connection to essential services like healthcare and education4. Given the urgent need for investments into high-quality transportation networks and well-connected cities, we have focused this iteration of the course on accelerating the development of transportation and urban development infrastructure.
9. Over the 5 days of the course, industry experts and distinguished professors will introduce technological and financial solutions from Singapore-based companies to boost private sector investment in transportation and urban development projects. These solutions include digitalisation for transportation planning, land value capture and green finance. The speakers will also share practical steps to improve the sustainability of infrastructure projects, such as integrating sustainability metrics into the procurement and evaluation process. In addition to classroom learning, we have worked with Singapore’s Land Transport Authority to organise a guided tour of a multi-modal transit-oriented development in Singapore. We hope that the experience will be useful for many of you pursuing such projects in your jurisdictions.
10. We recognise that when it comes to infrastructure planning and delivery, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Given the diverse social, economic and environmental conditions in your home countries, we are very eager to learn from all of your rich expertise and experience.
Introducing Infrastructure Asia and encouraging deeper engagements
11. To make the most out of the course, I would like to encourage all participants to discuss the challenges you face in your local context. I look forward to your active contributions over the next 5 days, and there will be an opportunity for everyone to share your experiences during the Participants’ Sharing Session on the final day.
12. Before I pass the time to Dr. Flocy, please allow me to say a few words about Infrastructure Asia. We are an infrastructure facilitation office set up by the Singapore government. We aim to catalyse project development, financing and execution opportunities. We contribute and assist in the region’s infrastructure development through several ways:
- Firstly, we provide high-level, early-stage project structuring advice to our partners. This is backed by our exposure to a wide variety of marginally bankable infrastructure projects across the region.
- Secondly, we connect our regional partners to best-fit solutions along the entire infrastructure project life cycle, by tapping on the rich ecosystem of local and international service providers based in Singapore.
- Thirdly, we collaborate with partners to conduct bespoke capacity-building programmes that share sector best practices and uplift competencies in areas such as structuring PPPs. This enables our partners to better manage their infrastructure projects.
13. Growing Infrastructure Course is one of Infrastructure Asia’s key platforms to deepen our engagements with regional government counterparts like yourselves. We are very proud to be the sponsor of this course.
Connecting regional demand-side players with Singapore-based solution providers
14. And we would very much like to step up our efforts in partnership with you to address challenges in scaling up infrastructure. We can support the region’s infrastructure development plans in collaboration with strong partners like the World Bank Group. I would like to urge you to reach out to us for further conversations to discuss your infrastructure priorities, so we can curate best-fit solutions to meet your needs.
15. I am confident that the course will be relevant and informative. I look forward to hearing your experiences and insights during the Sharing Session on Friday. With that, I wish all of you a fruitful week ahead. Thank you.