Do they work?
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are important for economic growth and development across the African continent as they offer a unique opportunity to harness the strengths of both the public and private sectors and create mutually beneficial relationships.
A panel hosted by the GIBS Centre for African Management and Markets (CAMM) discussed recent successful PPPs in Africa and asked how the appetite for such projects in South Africa, which hasn’t initiated any new PPP infrastructure schemes since 2017, could be revived.
Political and regulatory complexities, access to finance, project preparation and institutional capacity are among the challenges facing PPPs. GIBS lecturer and economist Francois Fouche told the panel that the approval process for PPPs is onerous for both public institutions that apply to launch such projects and for the national treasury, which must manage the approval process with an already thinly stretched team.
A notable PPP example is the recent refurbishment of the bustling Zimbabwe Beitbridge border post, the busiest in Southern Africa, whose upgrade is expected to have a substantial economic impact. The project has already reduced the queuing time of commercial vehicles from an average of seven days to three hours, while tax collection has doubled due to the implementation of proper procedures.
CEO of Zimborders Francois Diedrechsen said the $300 million project rebuilt the infrastructure of the border post and upgraded local social development infrastructure such as a water reservoir, creating opportunities for the local community.
Siyanda Mflathelwa, head of public-private partnerships & concessions at Rand Merchant Bank said banks and lenders trust PPPs as they have a proven framework to deliver projects.
“As the framework requires extraordinarily detailed specifications of the project, all parties have a clear understanding of the parameters. It provides a mechanism which aids in getting buy-in from both sides.”