MENA faces $994bn infrastructure funding gap between 2016 and 2040: report

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The Middle East and North Africa region is confronting the largest infrastructure funding gap in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, estimated to be about $993.9 billion between 2016 and 2040, according to the ICD-Refinitiv OIC Infrastructure Outlook 2023 report.

The infrastructure funding gap is the difference between the funds required to develop and maintain infrastructure projects and the available financial resources to meet those needs.

The study noted that the region faced a funding gap of $684.9 billion in the infrastructure development of roads, $110.8 billion in water, $47.3 billion in rail, $33.6 billion in ports and $24.7 million in airports during the 25 years.

Electricity infrastructure is the only sector where MENA holds a surplus of $27.4 billion.

Sub-Saharan Africa, on the other hand, faced an infrastructure funding gap of $665 billion between 2016 and 2040, with telecommunication accounting for $178.6 billion, electricity for $126.3 billion and rail for $42.5 billion.

Similarly, Europe and Central Asia were better placed with a gap of $547 billion, lagging by $414 billion in road development.

“As Islamic markets grow in global importance … and their potential expands as markets for consumption and investment, it is becoming increasingly vital that the gaps are filled,” said Mustafa Adil, head of Islamic finance, Refinitiv, in the report.

The report further revealed that the overall funding gap for the 57-member OIC countries is estimated at $2.7 trillion during the 25 years.

The top five countries in terms of infrastructure funding gaps included Turkiye with $405 billion, Egypt with $230 billion, Nigeria with $221 billion, Bangladesh with $192 billion and Iran with $153 billion.

Moreover, the most significant funding gap across the OIC was in roads, making up 53 percent of the total.

Telecommunications, electricity and water contributed 38 percent of the overall gap, followed by rail, ports and airports with a combined 9 percent.

The report further said key challenges facing OIC countries in developing the infrastructure are lack of funding, limited institutional capacity, vulnerability to political risk, weak legal and regulatory frameworks, and the environmental and social implications of any infrastructure projects.

There are, however, significant opportunities to support economic growth and boost prosperity, increase trade, enhance social welfare, improve energy security and climate resilience, and improve regional integration, the report said.

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