Development partners carry out development co-operation so that developing countries can eventually drive them out of business. In other words, the objective of development co-operation is to help these countries achieve sustainable development that will no longer require aid. For this to happen though, developing countries need a thriving private sector that invests, trades, creates jobs, produces outputs, generates income, pays taxes, reduces poverty, and enhances the well-being of their citizens.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognises this. It also recognises the role of development partners in mobilising the private sector. In this respect, one of the key contributions that development partners can make is to help connect developing countries to boost investment and trade, particularly by taking advantage of global value chains. Here, transport infrastructure becomes important. This is because sufficient and adequate cross-border or long-distance roads and railways as well as international ports and airports are needed to move products and people around. In addition to the hardware, the accompanying software such as harmonised and efficient regulations, common safety standards, and consideration for climate change is also necessary.

This report therefore tries to capture what bilateral and multilateral development partners are doing to help enhance connectivity of developing countries through transport infrastructure. It also elaborates on the specific challenges - due to the wide geographical coverage that involves multiple countries, many stakeholders and high costs - and what collective action can be taken to address them. As a background, the report takes stock of regional transport plans in Africa, Asia, Latin America and developing countries in Europe to place development co-operation in context. Furthermore, it analyses the allocation of official development finance for transport connectivity, particularly in relation to the distribution of private investment for the same types of infrastructure. Finally, the question of how large the financing gap is for transport connectivity to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and what development partners can do to fill this gap is also discussed.

The world is changing as we speak. Tectonic shifts in technological innovation, patterns of production, modalities of finance, as well as the political agenda of nations and regions that affect investment and trade of developing countries continue to surprise us. But one thing is certain - these countries need to be better connected. As such, we hope that this report provides a comprehensive picture of the current state of play as well as food for thought on what can be done to help enhance connectivity through transport infrastructure so that no one will be left behind.