There is hardly a government today that does not consider some sort of public-private partnership (PPP) to be relevant and integral to its development strategy.
Everywhere you go now, there are individuals and institutions dealing with PPP policy and all the complex aspects of tendering, implementing, and supervising PPP projects. A specialization has arisen, which has become a career for many people and an industry for many institutions, public and private.
Tomas Castelazo | Wikimedia Commons
The Colombian magazine Dinero, one of the most respected economic publications in Latin America, recently published a story about a World Bank study that placed Colombia as the second most competitive country in the world—behind a tie between Great Britain and Australia—to finance infrastructure projects under the public-private partnership model (known as PPPs). This score (83 points out of 100) was also shared by Paraguay and the Philippines.
At first glance, this is a virtuous recognition—at least on paper. However, in daily practice in the Latin American region, like most emerging economies, the administrative complexity of government bodies still presents enormous challenges that demand immediate attention if PPPs are to reach their full potential. Getting this right would truly integrate the PPP model into the economic and social development engine required to compete in a globalized economy.
Like winter and summer solstices of investment cycles, every six months we take stock of how much private participation in infrastructure has come to financial close across emerging markets. From Mozambique to Moldova, Chile to China—in power, water, transport, and the backbone of telecom services—the World Bank Group tracks every new public-private partnership (PPP), privatization, auction, concession, lease, and management contract through our PPI Database.
Recently, I published a book about infrastructure public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the most challenging developing countries—a private sector perspective on what is required to bring investment and expertise to partner with governments in providing vital infrastructure services.
There is already a substantial body of work on the potential of PPPs and how to design, finance, and implement them—even in countries where there are limited legal and regulatory frameworks on which to build. What compelled me to write my book is the urge to share, as a practitioner over two decades in some of the most challenging markets, common pitfalls I’ve seen and what appear to be the critical elements of success in creating successful and replicable PPPs.
As recently as 2006, Timor-Leste was in crisis. Only a few years into independence, the country was torn by riots and political turmoil. Not surprisingly, its business climate was one of the region’s worst.
But . Nonetheless, Timor-Leste remains a fragile state, and with oil accounting for 80 percent of GDP, it is the world’s second most oil-dependent nation.
While discussion about Maximizing Finance for Development (MFD) is ramping up with governments and the international development community to seek innovative approaches to mobilize more private sector investment in developing countries, there is a group of countries with an additional layer of complex challenges.
It brings me no pleasure to say this, but a fair number of countries have economic and financial conditions, business environments, and rule of law that are almost always weak. Clearly, these conditions significantly increase the risks of investing in infrastructure for the private sector; consequently, the markets for public-private partnerships (PPPs) tend to be less developed.
What do Bangladesh, Honduras, and Senegal have in common?
They all have per capita Gross Net Income below $1,165, allowing them to borrow from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) that provides concessional financing to the world’s poorest countries. There are 72 other such IDA-eligible countries.
IDA countries face many complex challenges in the new global economy, including underdeveloped infrastructure, inadequate access to basic services, and a lack of affordable financing. IDA support simply is not enough to resolve the myriad of complexities in these countries, and governments need to seek alliances with the private sector—especially when it comes to building infrastructure sustainably.
In a previous blog, I used the metaphor of marriage to explore the dynamic of public-private partnerships (PPPs) as relationships created between two parties with often very different expectations and methods of communication.
Today, we explore PPP cancellations, the what and why— further stretching the marriage metaphor.
The worst reconciliation is better than the best divorce – Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra
BRJ INC | Flickr
In the 18th century, muskets were produced by skilled craftsmen, one piece at a time. Each component was individually forged, filed, and worked—like a piece of art—until they could all be put together into a single weapon.
Today, the limitations of this approach are apparent. The cost and time required to produce each musket were high, and replacement parts had to be made by hand. This method was replaced by production with interchangeable parts in the early 19th century, a process advanced by Eli Whitney, an inventor who produced arms for the U.S. government.
A healthy Public-Private Partnership (PPP) has several defining features: strong competition, bankability with low financial costs, lower risk of renegotiations, secure value for money, and efficiency gains.
What does it take for countries to develop PPPs that can fit this description? Why is it that some countries such as India, Colombia, Turkey, and Egypt have been able to develop strong and successful PPP programs while others have not been able to award any projects under special-purpose PPP legislations?
Our experience with infrastructure PPPs across the globe suggests that three institutional pillars are needed to increase the probability of PPP success.