Investment in Colombia’s infrastructure was 25.4% higher in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same three-month period last year, reported the country’s national statistics agency on Thursday.

According to figures released by the National Department of Statistics (DANE), the jump is largely due to a 31.9% hike in investment in roads, which accounted for half of the total increase, followed closely by improvements in Colombia’s increasingly attractive port infrastructure.

The overall investment in waterways, ports and dams saw an increase of 40% across the last three months, a statement from the Presidential Office read. More modest increases were reported in sectors of mining and electricity (6.1%) and airports, railways and urban transport (4.9%), according DANE.

Long term infrastructure concerns

The improved statistics are welcome amid concerns surrounding whether the meager growth of Colombia’s infrastructure could hinder its accelerating economy. Colombia dropped 33 places in the 2014 world rankings of logistics and infrastructure in March and now ranks at number 97, according to a World Bank Report.

MORE: Colombia plummets in World Bank logistics and infrastructure ranking

Several infrastructure issues currently inhibit Colombia’s competitiveness, including delivery times, quality of roads and poor connectivity with the country’s two most important ports of Buenaventura and Cartagena, Vanguardia newspaper reported.

Roads are seen as the main concern with Colombia having under 600 miles of divided highways to carry 70% of the country’s exports — amounting to 170 million tons — between the its five main ports situated on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In contrast, Latin American competitor Chile has more than 900 miles to connect its 32 ports on the Pacific.

Infrastructure was identified as a long-term bottleneck to Colombia’s economic growth less than a year ago by both a representative of the IMF and also UK international newsmagazine, the Economist.

The International Monetary Fund’s Colombia Chief, Valerie Cera, previously told Colombia Reports that she sees potential in the “ambitious program for infrastructure investment”.

However, the Economist believes that the problem is too pressing to justify the lengthy preparation times taken to develop the plan stating that Colombia, like a number of other Latin American economies, can “ill afford to wait so long for better infrastructure.”


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