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Indian-origin minister creates new UK infrastructure panel


Press Trust of India London
One of Britain's frontline Indian-origin Cabinet ministers, Alok Sharma, on Wednesday launched a new commission to bring together leading experts to "turbo-charge" quality infrastructure projects in developing countries.
The international development secretary, in charge of the UK's aid budget, said the new International Development Infrastructure Commission will be made up of the UK and international business leaders, bringing the very best of British expertise, and will make recommendations to improve the planning, delivery and financing of infrastructure projects.
The focus will be to help make investment in infrastructure in developing countries more attractive to businesses and investors.
"This commission will aim to turbo-charge investment in green, sustainable infrastructure, leading to more jobs, better access to basic services and opportunities for businesses, creating the UK's future trading partners," said Sharma.
"An extra USD 2.5 trillion is needed every year to end poverty in developing countries and the UK must mobilise private sector investment to overcome this challenge. Alongside the lifesaving work of UK aid, we need to boost infrastructure projects that form the backbone of economic growth," the India-born minister said.
During his visit to Ethiopia this week, Sharma called for the UK to lead the world to mobilise private sector investment to create jobs and build sustainable economic growth that will lift millions out of poverty. Africa is the world's second fastest-growing region but currently 600 million Africans do not have access to electricity, the UK's Department for International Development (DfID)said.
The International Development Infrastructure Commission is devised as a group of infrastructure leaders from the UK, Africa and Asia, who will advise Sharma on how to increase the UK's role in financing and developing infrastructure that promotes inclusive growth, while meeting the Paris Climate Commitments. It will address key gaps in the global support for infrastructure planning, financing and delivery to support higher impact, lower carbon international infrastructure.
"This will help create a greener, cleaner world," DfID said.
Alongside mobilising private sector investment, the newly-promoted Cabinet minister in the Boris Johnson led government also announced extra UK aid specifically for Ethiopia as it builds more sustainable infrastructure, helping cities to grow in a green way and providing affordable clean energy.
While in Ethiopia, one of Africa's fastest growing economies, Sharma met with British investors and the Ethiopian government to discuss the opportunities and challenges of working in a developing economy. The visit comes ahead of the UK-Africa Investment Summit in 2020, to be held in London to build on future opportunities for trade between the UK and African businesses.
As part of the latest offer of support for infrastructure in Ethiopia, Sharma announced new allocation of GBP 10 million that will help city economies to become more productive, deliver access to renewable power for businesses and households and strengthen investment in key infrastructure.

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First Published: Aug 28 2019 | 8:05 PM IST

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