Much of the funding invested in the construction of infrastructure in low income countries does not benefit contractors, suppliers and workers from those countries. Increasing the input of local labour, goods and services (local content) could make a major contribution to economic growth and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. This briefing note has two aims: (1) to show policy-makers that expanding the local content of infrastructure projects is an achievable objective with real long-term benefits and (2) to provide practical guidance on how to do this.
The note is divided into two parts. In part I the authors show that the procurement process can serve as a powerful tool to promote local content in infrastructure construction. However a number of challenges are identified, notably the preference of clients donors, engineers and the business community for expensive, high tech and large scale projects which are not within the capability of the local industry, as well as the failure of international agencies to balance objectives. In part II some suggestions are put forward for overcoming the challenges and promoting local content through minor changes to procurement at each stage of the project cycle.