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Infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean: Quality or Quantity?

A report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) suggests that although the amount of money invested in infrastructure is very important, the quality of the services that this infrastructure provides is even more so.

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Investment in infrastructure is usually measured in terms of the millions of dollars spent. However, a recent document by the Inter-American Investment Bank (IDB) suggests that “the stock of infrastructure is very important, but the quality of associated services is even more so.” Therefore, “infrastructure should be designed and evaluated as a function of the services that it provides and their level of quality.” 

To defend this position, the report refers to a study conducted by McKinsey Global Institute, explaining that “Improvements in infrastructure planning, project preparation, and implementation on time and to standard could be combined with improved maintenance of assets, reduced losses, and the implementation of demand optimization policies to increase the productivity of infrastructure by up to 60%.” 

However, looking past the numbers, an important factor to keep in mind upon considering investment in infrastructure is the quality of life, and in this connection, quality is essential. “For example, having access to infrastructure for the delivery of water does not mean that the service is actually received. Moreover, quality of life in a household that receives drinking water meeting high quality standards 24 hours a day is undoubtedly much better than in a similar household that receives intermittent service of poor quality.”

According to the report, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) can still grow significantly in this area since the comparative indexes are still low. “Users of infrastructure in LAC perceive that its quality is significantly inferior to that of countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).”

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