Glennie: Infrastructure Is Back on Donors' Agenda

A road construction site. Donors are beginning to renew their focus on infrastructure projects, according to Jonathan Glennie. Photo by: Kyle May / CC BY Kyle MayCC BY

Donor agencies are beginning to renew their focus on the infrastructure sector, particularly on transport and energy, Jonathan Glennie writes on the Guardian’s “Global Development” blog.

This shift is long overdue, the Overseas Development Institute research fellow says while explaining the importance of long-term investments in infrastructure development.

“This kind of spending has a long-term results horizon and may not lead to the sort of quick improvements in human development indicators aspired to in the millennium development goals (MDGs) - a point we will return to,” he explains. “However, it is absolutely crucial if any gains are to be sustained.”

Glennie says an important question is why spending for infrastructure development have had to come back.

“Where did it go in the first place? There are thousands of papers on development written every year, calling for all kinds of strange things. But try as I might, I am yet to find one suggesting that a reduction in spending on infrastructure is a sensible way forward for any country, rich or poor. What then explains the reduction?” he notes.

Possible reasons, Glennie says, are the focus on MDGs and an overemphasis on infrastructure development in the past years.

And why the shift back? Glennie notes that China is to be thanked for this, citing the country’s rising focus on infrastructure investments in Africa.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.