Manage infrastructure like a business and introduce competition in utilities, public works and transport sectors, the World Bank recommends in the 1994 edition of its annual World Development report published on 19 June.

The report says that developing countries have invested heavily in infrastructure, but this has failed to produce the quality or quantity of services needed. ‘The costs of this waste – in foregone economic growth and lost opportunities for poverty reduction and environmental impact improvement – are high and unacceptable,’ the report says.

The World Bank holds back from calling for a completely private-sector approach to infrastructure projects. Instead it says public-private partnerships are promising.

It also calls for users and other stakeholders in infrastructure to be given a strong voice and real responsibility. ‘Users and other stakeholders should be represented in the planning and regulation of infrastructure services, and in some cases they should take major initiatives in design, operation and financing,’ the report says.

The report says that developing countries invest $200,000 million a year in new infrastructure. This is equivalent to 4 per cent of national output and a fifth of total investment in developing countries. It estimates that savings in higher efficiency in infrastructure could be about $55,000 million a year, equivalent to 1 per cent of the gross domestic product of all developing countries.