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Lessons from Colombia

Road-building is a classic tool to boost a flagging economy. But as Luis Fernando Andrade, president of Colombia’s national infrastructure agency, tells it, it isn’t plain sailing.

Luis Fernando Andrade Moreno-600

Colombia began working on its so-called 4G toll-road project in late 2011. With Colombian growth then around 5%, the aim was for the 40 separate road projects to combine to boost GDP growth to around 6.5%. However, with the Colombian economy suffering from falling commodity prices – particularly from the fall in oil – the effect of this infrastructure initiative is likely to keep Colombian growth to about 5%. The president of Colombia’s national infrastructure agency, Luis Fernando Andrade, explains how the project has developed and what it might mean for other Latin American nations. 

As lots of Latin American countries begin to look for infrastructure-led growth to replace commodities, what do you think are the keys to success for those countries considering such an economic pivot?

There are a couple of fundamental considerations for those thinking about using infrastructure as a means to propping up the economy. First: what is your starting point? Colombia has one of the poorest national infrastructure networks in terms of performance, which means our logistics costs are very high and therefore the economic impact from solving those bottlenecks is also very high.

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