Key conference session focuses on influencing the influencers

11 Sep 2023

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Engaging and persuading politicians to get positive messages across about the need for infrastructure investment was discussed by industry leaders at a key session of FIDIC’s Global Infrastructure Conference in Singapore on 11 September 2023.

The session, Persuading the politicians – getting the industry’s message across, grappled with the thorny question of how construction and infrastructure companies should look to influence politicians, governments and funders on the best routes to take for effective investment that makes a real difference to people’s lives.

FIDIC assembled a number of expert speakers and panelists (pictured above) with experience of engaging with politicians and government officials at many levels who offered their experiences and insights during the session.

Keynote speaker Kwasi Amoako-Attah, the minister of roads and highways of the Republic of Ghana and a member of Ghana’s Parliament, gave a frank admission about the importance of construction and infrastructure to the political classes when he said: “As an elected politician, what keeps us in power to a large extent is good and sustainable infrastructure investment. It drives positive change and makes a real difference to our people’s lives.”

Project finance lawyer Tim Murphy, CEO and managing partner of McMillan LLP, offered his experiences of lobbying and engaging with politicians and highlighted some good practice lessons. Murphy said it was crucial to understand the needs of politicians and take time and effort to find out what they were looking for. “You also need to understand who the influencers are who themselves influence politicians because persuading them can help get politicians onside too,” he said.

Carla Moonen, a senator in the Dutch Parliament who is also president of the Royal Dutch Association of Engineering Companies, gave her unique perspective on the issue as both an engineer and a politician. She stressed that engineers had the ability to advance real-world practical solutions and solve problems and said that there was a symbiotic relationship between politicians and engineering and infrastructure industry experts.

This point was amplified by Ines Ferguson, business development director at Typsa in Spain, who said that engineers should ensure that they use their scientific knowledge when dealing with politicians as they needed that level of practical expertise and it was something that engineers were uniquely placed to provide.

Panellists in the session were clear that there was an important role for FIDIC to play in getting the industry’s message across to politicians and governments by collectivising the global and regional knowledge base of the industry and communicating this to the many representative bodies, NGOs, funders and other influencers that FIDIC deals with on a regular basis.

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