globalEDGE Blog - By Tag: infrastructure

Africa’s second biggest economy is experiencing an energy shortage that is affecting consumers and businesses across the country. Eskom, the state-owned electrical provider, has informed customers that the company cannot keep up with the increasing demand for electricity, and has asked everyone to reduce the amount of energy they use. Recently, these measures have not been enough, forcing Eskom to implement managed electrical blackouts, impacting the 95% of South Africans that rely on Eskom’s service.

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As a result of a three day summit in which Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India, both countries signed landmark deals that will open up vast commercial and trade channels for two of the most populous nations in the world. These events will help accelerate India’s economy and industry, as well as strengthen China's regional relations.

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News coverage shows the chaos currently engulfing the Gaza Strip. The Israeli bombardment has so far destroyed 50 factories that previously produced food, textiles, and other goods according to the Vice President of the Palestinian Federation of Industries, Ali Al-Hayek. In addition to the poor economic effects of these attacks, citizen’s homes have also been destroyed. During July’s fighting alone, at least 2,655 homes have been extremely or entirely damaged. Inevitably, Gaza will have to undergo massive reconstruction once the conflict resides, however there are major problems associated with cost and trade that could prevent it from doing so.

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Sports are big business across the world. The recent agreement to sell the Los Angeles Clippers, of the NBA, for $2 billion is the largest amount paid for a sports franchise in the history of the United States. Across the world things are no different. In 2012, for the first time, a sports franchise issued an IPO and went public. Manchester United, an English soccer club, currently holds a $2.75 billion market cap, making it one of the most valuable sports franchises.

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With draws such as competitive labor costs, profitable domestic markets, and a skilled workforce, India is a top candidate for foreign investment. India has very strong management and business education systems, leading to a working class of citizens that foreign companies can accept as the workforce in expanding business. India's infrastructure, consumer products, technology, media, telecommunications, and life-sciences sectors are expected to drive the country's growth over the next few years.

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As Africa has moved itself into the investment spotlight, its lack of infrastructure has held the continent back from reaching its full potential. The unstable physical infrastructure in Africa, such as its transportation, communication, power, and water supply, is halting the growth that the country should be obtaining during this time, with its increased economic activity and competitiveness. With the proper investment and planning, Africa should be able to overcome this challenge and improve the now inadequate infrastructure it has long possessed.

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Over the past decade South Asia has experienced rapid economic growth, but its infrastructure growth has not kept pace. The World Bank recently came out with a report, “Reducing Poverty by Closing South Asia’s Infrastructure Gap,” which found that countries in South Asia need to invest up to $2.5 trillion in order to bridge the infrastructure gap in the next ten years. An infrastructure gap is the difference between a country’s development goals and its actual capability to obtain those goals.

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As the world's population continues to grow, more and more countries are beginning to realize the importance of improving infrastructure. The 2012-2013 Global Competitiveness Report repeatedly cites infrastructure as the single biggest hindrance to doing business in India, well ahead of corruption and bureaucracy. To address the needs of urbanization and global business, governments around the world are spending large amounts of money on infrastructure projects.

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A few months ago, Brazilian authorities officially announced that $2.3 billion will be spent on infrastructure projects alone for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. These costs will rise as projects are added along the way, and efforts to solve Brazil’s infrastructure gap continue. The pressure on the country continues as Brazil will be the first South American country to host the Olympic Games. On top of the 2016 Olympics, Brazil is also hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup this summer and has experienced delays in its infrastructure preparation. Therefore, the focus on infrastructure development has sharpened in Brazil. Now the question is: How will Brazil’s infrastructure growth impact its long-term prospects as an emerging country in the global economy?

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Infrastructure can be defined as the structure or underlying foundation on which the continued growth of a community depends and is of vital importance to countries in all stages of development.  The rapid development of innovations in technology and communication has enabled significant improvements in the design, installation, and operation of assets, which can expedite the process of upgrading infrastructure.  In today’s global business environment, cities around the world are competing for business and investment, and the quality of existing infrastructure is often a determining factor.  Countries that are able to deliver improvements to infrastructure quickly and without political interference will likely reap the greatest economic benefits.

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For those of us who drive, we are well aware of how unavoidable major traffic can be. While en route to work or on a road trip, it can be a nuisance to have your estimated time of arrival continually pushed back. But can you imagine consistently attempting to travel somewhere, while living in a city with congested roadways? In Dubai, this is a daily reality. As an affluent city in the United Arab Emirates, the number of cars has grown so much that traffic is a rising issue for the country. Orthodox methods to combating the problem such as increasing prices of parking, fuel, and insurance have proved fruitless so government leaders are seeking a new strategy: putting in place an income threshold for the ownership of vehicles.

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Peru is currently the third-largest producer of copper and the sixth-largest producer of gold in the world.  Peru’s mining industry is booming and government officials expect copper production to double by 2015.  Because of this projected growth, it is no surprise that Peruvian officials and business executives are visiting cities like New York City to attract foreign investments.  Forecasts indicate that by 2015, investment in the mining sector will make up close to 50% of total investments in Peru.

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Within the next two decades, Brazil is expected to triple oil production and move from the 12th top oil producer to the 6th according to the 2013 World Energy Outlook Report generated by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The predicted success of Brazil’s energy industry can be attributed to the auctioning of the Libra oil field which holds 8 to 12 billion barrels of recoverable oil. With a supply of oil this substantial, the world’s crude oil demand could be fulfilled for up to 9 weeks alone by Libra.

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Recently, the European Commission traveled throughout the Baltic Countries, which include Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, to promote the European Union’s plan for Rail Baltica. This project plans to connect the three capitals of the Baltic countries with a high speed train and cut the travel time to about four hours. Despite the promotion by the EU, there are still many headwinds that this project faces.

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When travelers make their way to the airports this holiday season, they may begin to notice a major change in the infrastructure of the airline industry. The continual addition of ancillary fees, or fees incurred outside of ticket costs, is becoming a larger component revenue for major airlines. Due to the highly concentrated industry, George Hobica, founder of airfarewatchdog.com stated that airlines “have to differentiate themselves to compete.”

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With a population of 5.4 million people crammed into 274.1 square miles, the country of Singapore could be considered a slightly smaller version of New York City. The country is a center for business offices, commercial buildings, retail stores, and residential apartments. However, a mounting need for space is becoming imminent as experts project Singapore’s population to grow to 6.9 million people in the next 15 years—a 1.5 million increase. Presently, the struggle for land has caused military camps and old residences to close down in order to make room for residential and industrial real estate development.

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While it is no secret that Sub-Saharan Africa has been plagued with poor infrastructure throughout the region’s history, the region’s economic prospects and investment opportunity just took another major hit. On August 7th, a massive fire damaged much of Kenya’s main international airport, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, causing the airport to close indefinitely with no flights arriving or departing since the blaze was first reported. What made the fire so devastating to the airport was that the Nairobi County fire department did not have a single working fire engine, due to an auction last month where three of their engines were sold in order to pay a $1,000 USD repair bail, which local papers called a “disgrace of biblical proportions.” Despite the physical damage done to Kenya’s major airport, the destruction caused by the flames is unfortunately only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the economic havoc that this fire most likely will unleash upon developing Sub-Saharan Africa.

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According to a report by the World Bank, Sub-Saharan Africa is on pace to achieve larger economic growth than the global average over the next three years. The report stated that higher commodities, increased investment opportunities, and a steady recovery in the global economy should sustain the region’s GDP growth above 5%, while the global average remains merely 2.4% as of this year. Excluding South Africa, the region’s strongest economy, African economies are currently growing at 5.8 percent, higher than the developing country average of 4.9 percent.Coupled with an anticipated increase in global foreign direct investment, which is expected to reach $54 billion USD by 2015, the economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa provides an immense opportunity not only to elevate the standing of African nations in the global economy, but also the chance to fight back against the region’s staggering poverty levels.

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From the hustling cities of Asia to the scorching desert cities of the Middle East, business travel is booming in emerging countries. Last year business traffic in the emerging markets of Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East grew substantially and major infrastructure projects are underway to accommodate the rapid growth in these markets. Most emerging cities are experiencing an expansion of airports, hotels, and highway. This trend is further testament to the dynamism and growth prospects of emerging markets.

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For the second year in a row, Singapore sits atop Mercer’s rankings for cities with the best infrastructure.  The rankings are a result of a survey conducted in 221 cities around the world.  In this survey, quality of infrastructure is measured by electricity supply, traffic congestion, availability of flights from local airports, quality of public transportation, telephone and mail service, and availability of water.  As businesses continue to expand beyond domestic borders, it is vital for cities that wish to be relevant in international business to have a solid infrastructure.

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The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is meeting December 3-14 in Dubai for the World Conference on International Telecommunications 2012 (WCIT) in what is being dubbed by some as the “conference to claim control of the internet” due a new internet privacy standard that has been approved. While this claim may be a little extreme, the ITU has adopted controversial changes in the restrictions that would allow internet service providers to examine internet users’ traffic.

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Falling interest rates worldwide and a more stable Africa have together created a perfect storm for debt investment in Africa.  Globally, central banks are driving down interest rates and because of this; investors seeking higher yields are investing their money elsewhere.  Countries like Zambia, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Namibia have begun issuing global bonds and investors around the world are quickly buying up these debt securities.  Many African countries are finally reaching the point of political and economic stability that is necessary to attract foreign investment.

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Over the past five years, Singapore has revamped its central business district.  Marina Bay, located in Southern Singapore, is now home to a unique blend of entertainment and business.  As regional headquarter buildings for companies like Google and Citigroup were being built, so too was a $5 billion Sands casino-resort that seemed a bit out of the ordinary for the typically conservative country. Nonetheless, the casino and revamped business district are attracting both domestic and foreign investment and so far “Singapore’s new skyline” has experienced huge success.

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Economic growth is a desire held by many nations around the world. But before a country achieves this goal, it must have the proper infrastructure in place to foster economic growth. The country of Bangladesh is a great example of this thought. Can you imagine having to wait three or more hours to cross a river? This is exactly what people in Bangladesh must do each day in order to enter the under-developed southern region of the country. The river separating the country is called the Ganges, known locally as the river Padma. Having a bridge over the Padma river has been a dream of Bangladeshis for decades and that dream may finally become reality.

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Germany is one of the world leaders in renewable energy. They currently receive 17% of their energy from alternative sources and have vowed to increase these levels to 35% in 2020 and 80% by 2050. Deutsche Bahn, the country’s major railroad company and largest energy user has just released plans to be completely carbon-free by 2050.

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With all the talk of the future growth of electric cars, many people might think that it will be as simple as plugging in their car next to the old refrigerator in their garage. Unfortunately, using a standard 120V outlet would take around 20 hours to charge a typical electric car. Most cars will require a 220V charging station that is connected directly to the home's circuit. Even with the shorter charging time, many batteries will only last between 25 and 100 miles. These short distances will require customers to charge their cars throughout the day and many companies are working to become the "go-to" method.

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When you think of a major international business hub, densely populated metropolitan areas such as London, Tokyo, and New York City come to mind. They are home to many multinational corporations’ headquarters and countless commercial offices; business never seems to cease in these cities. The relentless rise of electricity prices and a growing demand for high-quality power could drastically change the geography of these international business hubs in the next decade.

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Qatar has said it is looking at spending $100 billion as it is currently trying to revamp its infrastructure in preparation for the 2022 World Cup.  In response to the government of Qatar’s request, the United States government is sponsoring a trade mission to Qatar in June this year.  The country has been growing rapidly and is looking to build multiple new stadiums to host the event.  The growth potential in this country and for this trip is phenomenal.

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It is time for the world to become a lot smarter. Smart technology is a catch-all term that covers a variety of applications. Video cameras and sensors could be used to monitor traffic patterns and route drivers around bottlenecks. Computer chips in bridges could signal when repairs are needed. Wireless technologies could collect data on electricity usage throughout a city. Smart infrastructure promises to make the world more productive and competitive, while helping the environment and saving lives. Not only that, but it will save money by making what we've got work better and break down less often. These systems would improve productivity in the long run.

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File under: Innovation, Infrastructure

A nation's basic system of transportation, communication, building and maintaining road, bridge, sewage, and electrical systems provides millions of jobs nationwide. For developing countries, building an infrastructure is a first step in economic development. It is needed for a country to be efficient and productive. Without a good infrastructure in a country, an economy cannot thrive. Businesses cannot grow and be competitive with similar firms elsewhere.

KPMG recently released a report called "The Infrastructure 100," which displays the most exciting infrastructure projects from around the world, as selected by independent judging panels due to their scale, complexity, innovation and impact on society. This is a showcase of the most interesting infrastructure projects from around the world. There are different categories from water, power, renewable energy, rail, roads and education among others.

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With plans for double digit economic growth each year, India must work quickly to get their infrastructure in shape. Prime minister Manmohan Singh recently stated that he was going to double infrastructure spending from 500 billion dollars to 1 trillion in their five-year plan. Right now the country's poor infrastructure is holding back India's economic development. All-in-all India's highways minglister Kamal Nath set a goal of 20km of roads a day starting in June. That's almost 7,000 km of roads a year! That's an ambitious target but may be something this country needs.

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File under: Singapore, Infrastructure

Singapore has grown tremendously in the last few decades. They have one of the highest population densities of any country in the world. The Singapore government has devoted large amounts of time and money to urban planning to make this a possibility. They have used urban planning to make them globally competitive and increase their economic potential. Not only this, but they have also built an extremely environmentally friendly city. This makes their expertise in urban planning even more appealing. Now, they are looking to share that expertise with other cities around the world.

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File under: Economy, Infrastructure

When a natural disaster hits a country, the negative affects are quite obvious. The number of deaths is always devastating, along with the destruction of the land. Luckily, the number of casualties associated with natural disasters has dropped significantly in the past few decades. On the other hand, the cost of natural disasters is continuing to rise. They can have an enormous effect on the country’s GDP and economic growth. Natural disasters have been proven to drop a country’s GDP significantly.

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