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Interview with World Bank Director Responsible for Infrastructure Finance, Jordan Z. Schwartz

"When there was an investment, there was actually a government in place to keep an eye on how it was managed over time. PPIAF has had a tremendous impact. It's the only entity that's been filling that necessary space, that patient space for these last two decades." 

Jordan Schwartz, outgoing World Bank Director for Infrastructure Finance, PPPs & Guarantees, sat down with PPIAF and shared his over a decade-long experience with PPIAF and his wishes for the coming years. Schwartz highlights the unique role of PPIAF and the contributions it has made in the upstream infrastructure space.

Q: What are PPIAF’s greatest contributions over the past 20 years?

Schwartz: The contributions PPIAF has made over two decades have been incremental in some countries. We know that reforming infrastructure sectors and bringing in investment takes time. Nobody likes to hear that. You want to hear that countries decide—especially when a new government has come in—that they’re going to reform the energy sector, they’re going to reform the transport sector, they’re going to experiment with PPPs, and they want investments the next year. We want to cut a ribbon somewhere, we want to see traffic flowing, and ions moving across the wires immediately. It doesn't work that way.

Q: What is so unique about PPIAF and what changes has it made in the industry?

Schwartz: PPIAF has provided steady support. Year after year it has crossed generations of governments making sure that regulators have capacity, laws make sense, regulations and implementing rules are understood by all sides of government, that there's been training, and that projects have been well-prepared. I've seen it in a whole set of countries. Countries from Kenya to Cambodia, [they have been] led to projects, led to investment, and led to better service. More importantly, when there was an investment, there was actually a government in place to keep an eye on how it was managed over time. PPIAF has had a tremendous impact. It's the only entity that's been filling that necessary space, that patient space for these last two decades.

Q:  What are your expectations for PPIAF’s future?

Schwartz: PPIAF has brought laws and regulations, institutions, and credibility in the involvement of private sector. You've had two busy decades. Looking ahead to what the third decade of life is going to look like, I’d say that there’s so much work to do, so much investment needed in emerging markets, and so many people that depend on institutions that can protect consumer interests, protect society's interests, and make sure that investments are profitable for all sides of the contract. That's PPIAF. 

 

Learn More: PPIAF Anniversary video