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Michele Andreolli and Aidar Abdychev
This paper analyses a large public investment in a construction of a hydropower plant in Lesotho and its implications on the growth and debt sustainability. The paper employs an open economy dynamic general equilibrium model to assess the benefits of a large public investment through growth-enhancing increase in domestic energy supply and receipts from selling electricity abroad to ease the fiscal burden, which is often associated with big investment projects. During the transition (construction stage), various financing options are explored: increase in the public debt, increase in domestic revenue (fiscal adjustment), and combination. The calibration matches Lesotho's data and it captures the project's main challenges regarding the project costs. Moreover,the key remaining issue is the agreement with South Africa to purchase sufficient amount of electricity to allow the potential plant to run at a high capacity. We find that, the project can lead to sizable macroeconomic benefits as long as costs are relatively low and demand from South Africa is sufficiently high. However, the risks for the viability of the project are high, if these assumptions are violated.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.