The world faces a massive construction project just to keep up with projected growth
Global Investment (Trillions), 2013–2030
Some countries need infrastructure that simply meets basic human needs, such as safe drinking water. Another may want to modernize its transportation network, and still others may be trying to lay the groundwork for future global competitiveness by building a national broadband network. But around the world, about $57 trillion needs to be spent by 2030 to keep up with the projected growth of global gross domestic product. Roads and power account for about half of projected spending.
Indeed, building and repairing roads and power grids are the two areas with the greatest need for new investment, followed by water provision and telecom networks. Much of the money needs to be spent in developing countries. In 2012, for example, only 34% of rural Africans lived within two kilometers of an all-weather road, only 25% had electricity and only 61% had access to water sources that were protected from external contamination. The infrastructure needs in Africa are especially daunting.
There are, of course, many countries with multibillion-dollar projects underway. Perhaps the most ambitious are in China, where such megaprojects include the world’s largest bridge and the longest underwater tunnel. In Panama, improvements that will double the capacity of the canal are expected to be completed in 2016. The bill for such projects can be daunting. But without the necessary infrastructure, economies struggle to meet their full economic and human potential.