Blog |November 21, 2018
Member Spotlight: The Commonwealth Secretariat
Commonwealth Avenue, Canberra, ACT, Australia. Photo: Marty Southwell / Unsplash.com
Over the past year, the Global Infrastructure Connectivity Alliance membership has grown to 13 members, ranging from national governments and multilateral development banks to international organizations and established associations. Most recently, we have welcomed four new members, including the Republic of Indonesia, The Commonwealth Secretariat, Long-term Infrastructure Investors Association, and the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative.
You might have seen their logos on the GICA Member page, or perhaps you have browsed through their individual websites. But what might not be obvious from a logo or website is what motivated each member to join GICA and the role cross-border connectivity plays in each member's day-to-day operations.
To learn more about how our members view connectivity, we will be introducing them to you in our Member Spotlight series. First up? The Commonwealth Secretariat and a brief interview with Mr. Kirk Haywood, Adviser for Trade Competiveness.
GICA: What motivated the Commonwealth Secretariat to become a member of GICA?
Commonwealth Secretariat: At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April 2018, the 53 Leaders of the Commonwealth launched the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment (CCA). The CCA focuses on four areas:
1) supporting global growth
2) employment creation
3) knowledge sharing
4) promoting development
The CCA is about policy arbitrage—policymakers sharing experiences that work in different countries at different levels of development to help other policymakers make more informed decisions.
GICA: What is the Commonwealth’s vision, or agenda, for cross-border connectivity infrastructure?
Commonwealth: On infrastructure, [Commonwealth] members focus on looking at how to unlock private sector investment for infrastructure. We also focus on providing policymakers across the Commonwealth with tools that can be piloted within a member or small groups of members, which can then be subject to peer review among members, and upon which the broader membership can draw lessons. Within the broad remit of infrastructure, the infrastructure necessary for digital trade is a particular area of interest to Commonwealth policymakers.
GICA: Are any challenges for improving connectivity unique to the Commonwealth? How might GICA’s knowledge sharing platforms and network support your aims in addressing such challenges?
Commonwealth: The Commonwealth represents 53 diverse members, spread globally and at different levels of development. From large emerging economies such as India and South Africa, to small island states such as Kiribati and St. Kitts. Having such a globally diverse membership means that our focus will not be on building physical infrastructure. Instead our focus will be on the soft infrastructure—the ecosystem for infrastructure development. A particular challenge our members want to understand is how to attract investment in infrastructure in small and vulnerable economies—a difficult question.
The CCA sees GICA as a source of knowledge on what solutions could work in members and also as a network that can help connect the dots from lessons learned in their various experiences supporting various categories of members in various regions. The network can also bring lessons learned from ongoing implementation of connectivity initiatives, that can be fed real-time into policy processes taking place across the Commonwealth.
Many thanks to Mr. Haywood for sharing the Commonwealth's views on cross-border connectivity with us. Stay tuned for more interviews in our Member Spotlight series.