Fixing the World’s Infrastructure Problems
We all have a stake in the infrastructure surrounding us — the roads, buildings, power lines, and telephone networks that we rely on daily. How well they’re built and operated is crucial to economic growth and is a key arbiter of an economy’s competitiveness — and yet, virtually every economy faces an array of infrastructure challenges.
Just a few examples illustrate some of the pressing issues: South Africa’s power distribution network has an estimated maintenance backlog of $4 billion — equivalent to half of the country’s total investment in electric power generation and distribution in 2011. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that 15% of the country’s roads are in an unacceptable condition and says that road congestion costs the U.S. an estimated $100 billion per year. In Jakarta, from 2005-2009, the number of cars rose by 22% annually, while the distance of usable roads actually declined (PDF). The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean estimates that investment equivalent to 7.9% of GDP (PDF) is necessary to raise infrastructure in the region to the standard of developed East Asian countries.
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