They served to plug a funding gap created as commercial banks struggled to shake off the consequences of the global financial crisis, Calvin Walker, global head of project finance at Baker & McKenzie, said.
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Banks across the world were hard hit by the crisis, after taking on too much debt which turned toxic when borrowers struggled with their repayments. Banks have since been working to shore up their balance sheets, leading to a significant reduction in the amount lent to businesses and individuals.
To fill this investment gap, lending by government-backed agencies has grown – and was especially prevalent in some emerging markets where they provided the only project finance available. Currently in Indonesia, for instance, nine out of 10 projects have ECA or multilateral (from the World Bank, for example) support, according to the report.
While across the Asia-Pacific region as a whole in the first half of 2013, commercial lenders loaned $11.2 billion, while ECAs and DFIs together lent $16.2 billion. In the Middle East over the same period, a total of $4.9 billion was loaned by commercial lenders, compared to $10.3 million from both ECAs and DFIs.
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"The presence of ECAs and DFIs on deals not only provides an essential source of funding, but they also bring valuable comfort to commercial banks, allowing them to make the longer tenor loans that are essential for large scale energy and infrastructure projects," Baker & McKenzie's Walker said in a statement.
"The ECAs and DFIs have filled the funding gap during the financial crisis (whilst commercial banks rebuilt their balance sheets) and now the new market is more collaborative and more open to new sources of funding, including project bonds under a capital markets structure."
Commercial banks have recovered strongly in the past year, the report said, but stressed that ECAs and DFIs have retained a "strong grip" on deals.
Since 2008, JBIC is the ECA that has been involved in the most investments, investing $35.9 billion across 56 deals. While the European Investment Bank topped the league table of DFI investments over the same period; it was part of 114 transactions with a total value of $26.6 billion.