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Investments in infrastructure - why is matters

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Investments in infrastructure – transport, irrigation, energy and information and communication technology – are crucial to achieving sustainable development and empowering communities in many countries. It has long been recognized that growth in productivity and incomes, and improvements in health and education outcomes require investment in infrastructure. Inclusive and sustainable industrial development is the primary source of income generation, allows for rapid and sustained increases in living standards for all people, and provides the technological solutions to environmentally sound industrialization. Technological progress is the foundation of efforts to achieve environmental objectives, such as increased resource and energy-efficiency. Without technology and innovation, industrialization will not happen, and without industrialization, development will not happen.

Basic infrastructure like roads, information and communication technologies, sanitation, electrical power and water remains scarce in many developing countries. About 2.6 billion people in the developing world are facing difficulties in accessing electricity full time 2.5 billion people worldwide lack access to basic sanitation and almost 800 million people lack access to water, many hundreds of millions of them in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia1-1.5 billion people do not have access to reliable phone services. Quality infrastructure is positively related to the achievement of social, economic and political goals. Inadequate infrastructure leads to a lack of access to markets, jobs, information and training, creating a major barrier to doing business. Undeveloped infrastructures limits access to health care and education. For many African countries, particularly the lower-income countries, the existent constraints regarding infrastructure affect firm productivity by around 40 per cent. Manufacturing is an important employer, accounting for around 470 million jobs worldwide in 2009 – or around 16 per cent of the world’s workforce of 2.9 billion. In 2013, it is estimated that there were more than half a billion jobs in manufacturing. Industrialization’s job multiplication effect has a positive impact on society. Every one job in manufacturing creates 2.2 jobs in other sectors.

Small and medium-sized enterprises that engage in industrial processing and manufacturing are the most critical for the early stages of industrialization and are typically the largest job creators. They make up over 90 per cent of business worldwide and account for between 50-60 per cent of employment. In countries where data are available, the number of people employed in renewable energy sectors is presently around 2.3 million. Given the present gaps in information, this is no doubt a very conservative figure. Because of strong rising interest in energy alternatives, the possible total employment for renewables by 2030 is 20 million jobs.

Least developed countries have immense potential for industrialization in food and beverages (agro-industry), and textiles and garments, with good prospects for sustained employment generation and higher productivity. Middle-income countries can benefit from entering the basic and fabricated metals industries, which offer a range of products facing rapidly growing international demand. In developing countries, barely 30 per cent of agricultural production undergoes industrial processing. In high-income countries, 98 per cent is processed. This suggests that there are great opportunities for developing countries in agribusiness.

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