Country aims to quadruple infrastructure investment to £5.3bn with new law on private finance

The Colombian government has urged UK construction firms to get involved in its expected private finance building boom, after passing a new law designed to quadruple the country’s investment in infrastructure projects to £5.3bn by 2015.

Opportunities include the rebuilding of much of the country’s dilapidated rail network and a potential 1.7 million m2 redevelopment of the capital Bogotá’s federal buildings district.

Colombia’s economy grew by 5-6% in 2011 and has been identified by the UK government as one of 19 key target markets for UK firms.

Colombia’s congress passed the new public-private partnership (PPP) law last month - which allows for private sector-proposed infrastructure projects for the first time.

The PPP concessions, which will run for a maximum of 30 years, will be tendered to construction firms from the third quarter of this year.

Luis Niño, co-ordinator of private participation in infrastructure for the Colombian government, told Building: “Here in Colombia we don’t have PPP experience. We want to create a PPP industry and would welcome UK firms with that experience to enter the market.”

Niño said Colombia’s first pilot PPP projects will be tendered to firms by the end of this year.

The largest pilot scheme being drawn up is for a redevelopment of the Calle federal buildings district of Bogotá, with the potential to construct up to nine government buildings.

Niño said there will be opportunities for a masterplanner and technical consultant on the job and would welcome bids from UK firms with “urban renewal” experience.
The Colombian government has identified the rail sector as the main area where it will require external expertise. The country plans to invest £6.7bn by 2021 in reviving its dilapidated freight rail network in order to service its booming mining, oil and manufacturing sectors.

Jaime Niño, director of PPP at Aecom, said: “The new PPP law is a welcome step forward, as it will attract unsolicited proposals for infrastructure.”

Aecom has identified the country as its second target for expansion in Latin America after Brazil, Niño added.