Laying the Groundwork for Impactful Investments


Construction site of Shuakhevi hydropower plant in Georgia © Shuakhevi HPP

Their work starts long before the inauguration ribbon is cut.

IFC’s project development specialists often spend years working behind the scenes with governments to help ensure that critically needed infrastructure projects can come to fruition in challenging environments.

IFC InfraVentures is currently developing two dozen such projects. The global infrastructure project development fund was created in 2008 as part of the World Bank Group’s efforts to increase the pipeline of bankable projects. Most of them are located in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, where electricity and transport gaps are largest. The work includes connecting government and private sector partners and navigating regulatory, financial, and other hurdles to ensure projects are viable and sustainable.

“Here’s the secret of infrastructure financing: It’s about putting together the right partnerships around the table,” said David Donaldson, IFC InfraVentures’ lead for Africa. “We are working to create bankable projects that will attract private investors. This takes time. We get involved at an early stage and make the projects happen.”

This early-stage work can be slow going but the rewards are huge: InfraVentures’ first project to begin commercial operations, the Tobene power plant in Senegal, is now providing electricity to 1.5 million people.

Nachtigal, a Cameroon hydropower plant co-developed by InfraVentures, is set to increase that country’s power generation capacity by a third when it enters commercial operations in five years’ time. And two Nepal hydropower projects being developed with InfraVentures support—Upper Trishuli-1 and Upper Marsyandgi-2—could radically transform the country’s economy and even allow for electricity export to India.

“These are the kind of development stories you don’t see every day,” said Jessica Farmer, who leads IFC InfraVentures’ work in Asia. “It often takes a long time, and it’s not always a straight line, but early-stage investment can result in really major impacts in these countries and markets.”

In Georgia, InfraVentures was a co-developer of the $420 million, 181-megawatt Shuakhevi hydropower plant. The project was Georgia’s largest private hydropower investment to date and reached financial close in May 2014. Once constructed, Shuakhevi will sell 433 gigawatt hours of electricity domestically in Georgia in the winter and export power to Turkey in the remainder of the year.

Published in July 2016