Industry leaders in infrastructure gathered at this morning’s session of the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh to discuss ways to meet the ‘trillion-dollar gap’ in global infrastructure development, with a general consensus that government leadership was critical to the delivery of the transformational projects required.
With 65 per cent of the world’s population projected to be living in urban areas by 2050, the pressing need to tackle infrastructure challenges was stressed, with an acknowledgement that the world was reaching a tipping point with respect to fixed capacity transport services.
Panellists agreed that funding was not the issue is meeting this demand, but political will was critical.
Bruce Flatt, chief executive, Brookfield Asset Management noted that the world is currently going through a 30-year transformation in its infrastructure backbone, making a call for the intellectual capital required to bridge the gap between the trillions of dollars of potential investment and the massive global demand that is only set to increase.
Raj Rao, chief executive of Ford Smart Mobility, a division of the auto giant that is looking at innovations in transportation, highlighted the need for planning that will account for the demands of future generations, which Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 was meeting.
Looking at global demand, he made a call for initiatives that can capture the imagination of young people who want mobility systems that are truly flexible, he said: “Asia and the Middle East have a very young user base.
“They are more technologically savvy and they expect that things will move at their pace.”
Brendan Bechtel, chief executive of the US infrastructure giant Bechtel, which has been operating in the Kingdom for 75 years, noted that there’s never been a more exciting time to be in Saudi Arabia with the plans it has for transformation, arguing that the leadership shown in delivering reform was a large differentiator.
Regarding the extent of the Vision 2030 reform plans, he said: “I have never seen anything like this in the world,” while praising the real spirit of partnership with private enterprise being displayed by the Kingdom.
Powered by the Public Investment Fund, the Future Investment Initiative is taking take place from October 24th-26th in Riyadh.
The invitation-only event is being organised in the context of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, a blueprint that is already charting the path for the kingdom to harness its strategic location and strong investment capabilities.