The infrastructure-finance market is plagued by a lack of information. Governments and businesses aren’t in the habit of sharing best practices or benchmarks with one another, much less the details of what went wrong (or even right). Governments, investors, developers, and operators alike would benefit from sharing more information, in more structured ways. Many governments recognize that developers can be a valuable source of ideas—for example, about which projects would have the best economic returns or how to attract private investment. Early evaluation of project plans can help prospective bidders warn governments if the project looks unviable.
One way to contribute ideas and expertise is to submit unsolicited proposals for infrastructure projects to governments that allow such proposals. Brazil and Colombia, two of the busiest and most promising infrastructure markets in South America, accept them. Other entities are seeking to open new channels of communication. For example, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has invited private investors and developers to share their perspectives on how to develop the region’s infrastructure. Tanzania’s government uses “delivery labs” of public-, private-, and social-sector experts to set infrastructure-investment plans. And Chile has developed a way of evaluating PPP projects that rewards developers for proposing low-cost solutions to national-infrastructure problems. These are just a few of the governments showing a growing interest in investors’ views.