Photo: Courtesy of Safe Water Network
World Water Day is always a good time to take stock of where we are in achieving the water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Most PPPs relate to relatively large investments in major infrastructure run by utilities. But in the developing world’s rapidly growing small towns and urban peripheries, we need something else.
Enter safe (also called small) water enterprises, an exciting group of dedicated social entrepreneurs who are beginning to gain traction providing high quality water to communities not served by utilities. For example, our friends at Safe Water Network recently announced they are now serving more than a million people in India and Ghana (more about that in this blog.) A 2017 report by Dalberg suggested a potential market of 3.9 billion people for safe water enterprises.
The World Region
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Bloggers write to share unique insights. They may want to simply share knowledge, push an issue forward, establish thought leadership, and in some cases drive business.
Bloggers also create community. For example, this blog platform reaches a subscribed community (25K in number!) interested in infrastructure finance, PPPs, and the use of guarantees to spur private-sector investments—especially in developing countries. With niche topics like this, a blogspace becomes a virtual gathering place where we can exchange war stories, spectacular examples, best practices, trends, and opinions. We can know that others care about the same topics. We can also blog to shape the demographics of discourse and raise specific voices.
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This is one in a series of blogs by Jeff Delmon using the metaphor of marriage (or divorce) to explore the dynamics of public-private partnerships (PPPs) as relationships created between two parties.
“If all parties understood the other’s vantage point,” says the recently CP3P certified Francis Chukwu, “more deals would happen—facilitating more investment, and more successfully executed projects.”
Francis Chukwu had a distinguished career as an international project finance lawyer in Lagos, Nigeria, (with Aluko & Oyebode) and then in Paris, France, (with Clifford Chance) advising mostly equity investors and lenders before joining the World Bank Group’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) in 2016. He was offered the chance to become CP3P certified through the APMG PPP Certification Program, and when he took the first Foundation-level exam he thought he could just go in and pass. Not so.
While the World Bank’s resources for low-income countries have never been greater, they still pale in comparison with these countries’ needs. Governments always need to make hard choices between infrastructure needs, social programs, and fiscal discipline. One country was recently able to strike the right balance with the support of World Bank guarantees: Benin.
A strange irony persists in today’s infrastructure investment market: private capital waiting to be deployed into the sector is at an all-time high, yet investors seem reluctant to commit. Even in developed countries, few investors are willing to partake in transactions with merchant or construction risks without taking a higher risk premium.
This can make the financing of infrastructure projects more costly—a challenge particularly acute in emerging markets where further investment risks abound.
Using Islamic finance for infrastructure development attracted more attention recently in the quest to maximize finance for development.
At the recent World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings in Bali, the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) co-hosted a symposium on Islamic infrastructure finance, building on the institutions’ strategic partnership. As we note in Mobilizing Islamic Finance for Infrastructure Public-Private Partnerships, the asset-backed, ring-fenced, and project-specific nature of Islamic finance structures and their emphasis on sharing risks make them a natural fit for infrastructure public-private partnerships (PPPs).
It takes a lot to do a first Public-Private Partnership (PPP) well. In the past 12 months, we witnessed the successful financial close of two landmark PPPs: the Tibar Bay Port PPP—a first for Timor-Leste, one of the youngest countries in the world—and the Kigali Bulk Water project in Rwanda, considered the first water build-operate-transfer project in Sub-Saharan Africa.
To make these projects happen, deal teams, sponsors, and financiers did outstanding work in difficult environments. The Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) also earned some bragging rights and a share of the battle scars along with these actors.
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.
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La revista colombiana Dinero, una de las publicaciones económicas más reconocidas de América Latina, recientemente publicó un estudio del Banco Mundial en el que clasificaba a Colombia como el segundo país más competitivo del mundo—detrás de un empate entre Gran Bretaña y Australia—para financiar obras de infraestructura bajo el modelo de Alianzas Público-Privadas (conocidas como APP). De igual manera, este puntaje (de 83 puntos sobre 100) fue también compartido por las naciones de Paraguay y Filipinas.
A primera vista, este es un virtuoso reconocimiento—por lo menos en papel. En la práctica diaria en la región latinoamericana, así como en la mayoría de las economías emergentes, la complejidad administrativa de los órganos gubernamentales aún representa uno de los más altos retos que demanda de atención inmediata para que las APPs puedan alcanzar su potencial máximo. Hacer esto correctamente integraría realmente el modelo de PPP en el motor de desarrollo económico y social requerido para competir en una economía globalizada.