What’s all the Hub-bub?
The Global Infrastructure Hub (GIH) has been busy since its creation in 2015, and with good reason: its mandate only runs for four years and if it fails to impress its masters in the G20, it may not have a life beyond this decade.
However, it is certainly making a good case to become a central part of the global infrastructure landscape. In recent weeks, it has not only launched the impressively detailed InfraCompass tool, it has also made in-roads into the ambitious Chinese PPP market by publishing a Mandarin translation of its Allocating Risks in PPP Contracts document.
As chief executive Chris Heathcote explained when I interviewed him last autumn, the Hub is on a mission to help raise growth around the world through infrastructure – and the four-year mandate means it needs to show some significant results in that time if it is to convince its G20 political masters that it should be here to stay.
And according to Heathcote, there has been plenty of positivity created by the Hub’s work, not least by its latest InfraCompass tool. “The feedback has been incredibly positive,” he told me recently. “People are excited that we are targeting the most specific datasets.”
The InfraCompass tool is certainly comprehensive, covering 38 datasets across 49 countries, allowing users to compare the progress and success of up to six different countries at a time.
This move comes on the back of the GIH’s first project pipeline, which was published in December last year, offering information on pipelines in seven countries across the globe. While that represents a small start, Heathcote is confident this will grow over time to include a wide range of pipelines from a variety of countries.
However, Heathcote is also realistic, recognising that such tools can only do so much when it comes to getting investors to part with their cash in foreign lands. On the InfraCompass, he is clear: “I recognise that investors will do a lot of [their own] work. This is not a way for investors to choose countries, but if they’re writing a paper looking at the issues, this can help them get a handle on where to invest.”
The work is also part of an effort to keep a closer eye on what the public sector is doing – by showing up countries that are not performing so well in the rankings, thus helping them to realise where they need to improve if they are to attract investors.
And beyond the current tools that the GIH has already established, Heathcote says more is on the way – with another product due to appear as early as next month.
The key thing now is for organisations – both public and private – to make regular use of what the GIH has put out there. Heathcote, with his experience of working in one of the most mature and busy PPP markets as a key figure in the UK when the PFI boom was in full swing, is well-placed to make sure the products on offer are what are of most value to those engaged in the market around the world.
And if that experience pays off, creating a series of products that become important fixtures in the global PPP marketplace, then the GIH should have a future well beyond 2019.