ADB Economic Advisor Abdul Abiad discusses highlights of a new ADB report on financing infrastructure needs in Asia and the Pacific.


SOT: Abdul Abiad
Economic Advisor, Asian Development Bank
"Infrastructure in developing Asia has improved a lot. And that has spurred growth, reduced poverty, and improved the lives of millions.

Despite this progress, however, large gaps remain. Over 400 million people don't have access to electricity, 300 million don't have safe drinking water, and a billion and a half people still lack basic sanitation. Many rural areas are still difficult and expensive to reach, and Asia cities are struggling with congestion and pollution.

And these problems will just get worse if Asia doesn't invest enough in infrastructure. But the big question though is how much is enough?

This report answers that question and we make three big contributions.

The first is that we do a very careful assessment of how much infrastructure countries currently have and how much they're investing. That wasn't easy.

The second is that in assessing future infrastructure needs we don't look at just a handful of big countries as many reports do. We look at all of developing Asia, all 45 developing member countries of the ADB.

And the third and important contribution is that the report takes into account the effects of climate change on infrastructure needs.

As the report shows, these effects are big because countries need to shift to cleaner sources of energy and they need to use climate-resilient designs and materials.

The numbers we come up with, of estimated infrastructure needs, are eye-popping. Asia needs to invest $1.7 trillion a year - that's almost double the amount they're currently investing.

And that's what they need to do if they wants to sustain growth and adjust to climate change."