Last edited 18 Dec 2020

International Infrastructure Support System (IISS)



[edit] The challenge

The global demand for infrastructure investment is estimated at about US$3.7 trillion annually. In developing countries, it is driven by growing population, economic growth, urbanisation, environment constraints and industrialisation.

Population growth, migration from rural to urban areas and the rise of a middle class of consumers will in combination create vastly greater needs for transportation, energy, water, waste management and telecommunications. The high demand is not being met, not due to the enormous financing need, but to the lack of institutional capacity and poor project preparation. IISS is an effective way of addressing this issue.

Historically, much of the initiative and the funding for infrastructure have been considered to be the responsibility of government. Today, the debt burden is limited to government investment capacity but investment capital is currently abundant (institutional, sovereign wealth funds, permanent funds, family offices and private equity firms).

How can the investment needs and the constraints of lenders and fund providers be matched? By preparing better projects, to acquire the confidence of investors and lenders. Interest alignment between users, concessionaires and owners is essential to successful outcomes.

The private parties engaged in infrastructure financing and development need to understand the peculiarities of each local project and institutional context, and how policy and regulatory frameworks both enable and circumscribe the value that these projects can deliver over their lifecycle. This is where guidelines for better project preparation and stakeholder information are needed.

Not only is there a direct need for better educating the public sector and policy makers at large about the realities of infrastructure development, but also the importance must be emphasised of having informed owners who are technically sophisticated and have the ability to think ahead through the entire project lifecycle. This underscores the crucial importance of effective project preparation and the role it plays in project bankability.

[edit] The idea

IISS offers governments a global standard – reliable, secured and user-friendly project preparation software to maximise public-sector user financing options (including PPPs) by providing well-prepared projects in a consistent and transparent way to the international community of contractors, investors and lenders.

IISS was first developed by the Asian Development Bank (AsDB) in 2010 and, since 2013, has been further refined and managed by the Sustainable Infrastructure Foundation (SIF). IISS today is a global platform supported by major MDBs[1] and international financial institutions (IFIs).

Its Strategic Partners Committee consists of the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Economic Forum and other global life cycles.

IISS gives public-sector agencies an unmatched and tailored software service that integrates:

The IISS integrated web-based software service was designed and piloted by the MDBs so that it could help public-sector agencies to:

Since the global launch in January 2016, IISS has been focusing efforts on developing its user database by training more than 100 government officials from over 10 developing nations.

IISS continues to exceed all expectations with now more than 260 active users, 54 projects currently on IISS for a value estimated at over $15 billion and 18 governments using the platform. It contains over 30 templates that address different sub-sectors of infrastructure, covering detailed questions on governance, technical, legal, financial, environmental and social aspects, among others.

[edit] The barriers to innovation

The key barriers for implementing the proposed solution to the global dilemma include language, IT developments and the limited capacity of SIF to respond to the high user demands for new features, templates, available languages and rising demand for more training and support to governments.

SIF is currently operating at limited financial capacity (slow-growth case). It is estimated that by 2020, a total of 550 projects will be uploaded and published on IISS. This does not meet the demand from MDBs and users to upload a minimum of 2,000 projects on IISS by 2020, translate IISS into a further 12 languages, develop 50 extra sub-sector templates and train up to 80 more countries on the use of IISS software.

[edit] Solutions to overcome the barriers

To overcome these challenges, SIF must aim to operate at an accelerated rate (accelerated roll-out case), whereby sufficient financing must be provided to SIF to meet the growing number of user requests, develop more templates, features, training and a provide a higher level of support to governments.

[edit] Possible solutions developed include:

  • MDBs, having already collaborated and provided seed capital to design and launch IISS, are now seeking bilateral partners and/or donors to provide financial support for SIF, to continue the development of IISS at an accelerated rate.
  • SIF is currently developing a number of revenue models to become self-sustainable in the long-term. One such model is private-sector user access; provided via sign up/registration functionality[2] to access published projects and other features such as, but not limited to, alerts highlighting projects of interest; ability to search by sector, location, specific stage, third-party reviewer and estimated capital cost; and email alerts during the project preparation phase.
  • In addition, SIF is developing the licensing model for users and an online/onsite training model.

[edit] The way forward

IISS has proven to be a rapidly evolving tool that has radically improved the quality of public-sector project preparation outputs and increased the chances of well-prepared projects securing finance from a wider set of sources.

In the next financial year, SIF aims to train more governments on the use of IISS, grow the IISS user database from 260 users to 500, and upload and publish more projects on IISS.

[1] Multilateral Development Banks:

[2] No access will be privileged and no confidential information will be provided through this process.

[edit] About this article

This article was written by Christophe Dossarps, Director, Hub for Innovative Partnership, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Geneva. It was originally published on the Future of Construction Knowledge Sharing Platform and the WEF Agenda Blog

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