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Development Account Projects

Capacity-building of Government Officials in Management of Public-Private Partnerships for Improved Service Delivery and Infrastructure Development in Africa

Background:

The lack of adequate infrastructure and services in Africa is widely recognized as a major contributing factor to the weak socio-economic development of the continent. Several statistics across the various infrastructure sub-sectors clearly illustrate this deficit. For instance: only 30% of Africa’s population has access to electricity compared to rates from 70 to 90% for other regions of the developing world including Asia, Central America and the Caribbean, Middle-East and Latin America; 65% of Africa’s population has access to water and sanitation compared to rates of 80-90% for other regions; Africa’s telecommunication penetration rate is about 3% compared to an average of 40% for other regions; and the continent’s road access rate is about 34% compared to 50% for other regions. This infrastructure and services deficit contributes to African countries being among the least competitive in the world. The lack of good and adequate infrastructure and services also lowers productivity and hampers economic growth

The construction and operation of infrastructure facilities in Africa have traditionally been dominated by the public sector. However, the governments of most African countries, especially those in sub Saharan Africa experience enormous challenges in providing critical infrastructure services to their citizens. Consequently, there has been a surge in demand for private financing of infrastructure in recent years. This has been due to several factors, including: the lack of government financial resources; a decline in concessional aid; and in some cases inefficient public sector administration.

The private sector possesses the resources, technology, managerial skills as well as logistics to improve infrastructure and efficiently deliver related services. Accordingly and in the absence of any publicly funded alternatives, governments are increasingly using partnerships with the private sector to deliver critical services. The experience with PPPs in Africa has been mixed. Positive examples exist in the construction of toll roads on Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) terms while the experience with independent power producers (IPP) and water companies have not been so positive. A major cause behind the mix results could be linked to the lack of skills and knowledge within governments not only to identify projects and make them bankable, but also to manage public private partnerships. It is therefore critical, in order to attract private sector investment, to undertake a concerted and comprehensive programme of capacity building of government officials, including at local level, private sector and NGOs to develop partnerships for effective service delivery.

Over the years, ECA has been undertaking analytical work related to PPPs in infrastructure development and service delivery. This has involved studies on best practices across Africa. The Commission recently enhanced its experience and knowledge base on PPPs through involvement in the implementation of the 5th tranche Development Account project on "Public –Private Partnership Alliance Programme for Capacity Building in Infrastructure Development and Provision of Basic Services", jointly implemented with ESCAP and ECE. Through ECA's normative and analytical work, the following, among others, have been identified as challenges to the effective implementation of PPPs in Africa: weak institutional capacities of governments to negotiate and manage PPPs; weak indigenous (domestic or local) private sector that is generally absent in PPP projects; benefits of PPPs not trickling down to the poor due to poorly negotiated deals; PPPs resulting in the creation of new monopolies, with few foreign companies controlling services previously controlled by the State; misunderstanding or different views on the PPP concept contributing to lack of consensus in the general public of its merits; weak political will, unstable political and economic environments as well as fragile legal and regulatory frameworks. This project seeks to address the above challenges and in particular to contribute in building the capacity of African governments and other key stakeholders in PPPs. Overall, the term capacity building as applied in this project is used in a broad context and embraces policy, legal and regulatory frameworks as well as the ability of institutions to enforce existing instruments related to PPPs.

Objective:

The objective of this project is to enhance the capacity of Government officials and other key stakeholders, including NGOs, and CSOs, to mobilize private sector investment for the delivery of basic infrastructure and associated services in African, including in rural areas.

Expected Accomplishments:

  • Enhanced capacity of national trainers to empower stakeholders (government and private sector) in PPP processes and ensure sustainability of capacity building efforts
  • Strengthened skills and capacity of government officials in conceiving, planning and managing PPPs for provision of basic services and infrastructure
  • Strengthened institutional capacities of government organs, especially PPP units
  • Enhanced capacity of indigenous private sector to participate in PPPs for infrastructure and services development
  • Enhanced collaboration between stakeholders in the use of PPPs for effective service delivery and infrastructure development

Implementation Status:

In progress