An interview with Vishal Agarwal on Infrastructure Financing, PPPs & Economic Devt

Since 1993, Vishal Agarwal has worked all over the world executing deals in power, finance, and transport in various companies including GE and PwC. In his career, he has led deals worth $15-billion of financings globally. Some of the deals include the 2006 historic KenGen IPO, the acquisition of Telkom Kenya by France Telecom and the Kenya-Uganda Rail Concession.

We recently met Mr Agarwal where we had a candid conversation on the status of local infrastructure financing and the role of the private sector in encouraging economic growth. Excerpts from the interview follow.

On Creating an enabling Environment for local investors

Credit is the financial oil that enables economies and commercial enterprises to operate smoothly. From a macro-economic standpoint, Vishal says local investors should leverage on cheap debt and talent to foster local investment.

The role of the Capital Markets in providing the financial capital needed to help deliver infrastructure.

According to Vishal, a number of factors hinder institutional investors (particularly pension funds) from investing in big infrastructure projects. From tough regulatory environment, poor education and lack of a sufficient pipeline of bankable projects. He argues that tighter regulations are limiting the ability of these traditional capital providers to finance infrastructure projects.

On the perception that Chinese Investments comes with unethical practices

“I don’t think this is a time for African leaders to say one over the other because of a perception. The experience of each of the countries must speak for itself…. I don’t think you will sit there,read newspapers develop perceptions about stories in Sri-Lanka and apply to Kenya, China has been a good partner to Africa. Its simple and quantifiable.”

On public-private partnerships – PPPs

Effects of Politics on Infrastructure Finance

He says Govts should create frameworks that would facilitate entry of businesses into infrastructure projects.

Pricing for Political Risk