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Asian infra needs $1.7trn a year before 2030, says ADB

The lender’s updated measure of Asia’s infrastructure gap is more than double the $750bn annual shortfall it had estimated eight years ago.

Infrastructure requirements in developing Asia and the Pacific will exceed $26 trillion through 2030, driven by the need to support growth, mitigate climate change and eradicate poverty, according to the Asian Development Bank. 

A report released by the lender this week highlights that power and transport will respectively represent $14.7 trillion and $8.4 trillion of the total. Telecommunications will need to receive $2.3 trillion, while the gap in water and sanitation will reach $800 billion. 

Asia’s infrastructure needs will collectively amount to $1.7 trillion annually over the next 14 years, the bank said.
East Asia will account for 61 percent of investment needs through 2030, representing $16 trillion, or 5.2 percent of the region’s GDP. The Pacific area will require investments valued at $46 billion, equivalent to about 9.1 percent of GDP. 

The ADB’s updated $1.7 trillion annual estimate is more than double the $750 billion yearly need over the decade to 2020 it had projected in 2009. 

The multilateral said that the inclusion of climate-related investments is a major factor explaining this jump, while the continued rapid growth forecasted for the region also generates fresh infrastructure demand. Without climate change mitigation and adaption costs, the investment gap stands at $22.6 trillion, or $1.5 trillion per year. 

An important caveat, however, is that the report now includes statistics on all of emerging Asia’s 45 countries, using 2015 prices, compared to 32 in the 2009 report, which was based on 2008 prices. 

ADB also estimated that a subset of 25 countries, representing 96 percent of the region’s total population, are currently investing $881 billion a year in infrastructure. Multilateral development banks financed an estimated 2.5 percent of infrastructure investments in developing Asia in 2015. 

Excluding China, 24 Asian economies have a gap of 5 percent of their projected GDP. While public finance reforms could handle about two percent of GDP for the 24 economies, the remaining gap, worth about three percent of GDP, requires the private sector to increase investments from about $63 billion today to $250 billion a year over 2016-2020. 

To address the shortfall, ADB said that regulatory and institutional reforms are needed to make infrastructure more attractive to private investors and create a pipeline of bankable PPPs. The countries should develop their capital markets to channel substantial savings into infrastructure investment, ADB added. 

“The demand for infrastructure across Asia and the Pacific far outstrips current supply,” said ADB’s president Takehiko Nakao. “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.”