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Over the last few decades, Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs) have been used to build transportation, energy, telecommunications, and other infrastructure throughout the world. Value chains were established to foster growth in these sectors and significant experiences gained. A sector largely overlooked for PPP investments is the tourism sector.
In 2016, travel and tourism generated $7.6 trillion (10.2 percent of global gross domestic product) and an estimated 292 million jobs globally. The tourism sector is also the largest market-based contributor to finance protected areas such as national parks. In some countries, tourism depends almost exclusively on natural systems, often with wildlife as the primary attraction.
The World Region
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If the potential of public-private partnerships (PPPs) is to be realized, joint working within the public sector and between the public and private sectors needs to be improved.
Experience across the world has consistently identified that organizations find it difficult to effectively work together both within and across sectors. Issues of organizational objectives and priorities, individual and organizational sovereignty, status, power, resources, and culture act as barriers. This too often means that the potential outputs and outcomes from PPPs are not maximized.
Recent estimates place global annual non-revenue water (NRW), i.e. water produced but not billed because of commercial or physical losses, at 126 billion cubic meters. This translates to nearly $40 billion in annual losses on waste and foregone revenues—a sum, that even if a fraction could be recovered, would underpin a compelling market opportunity for private service companies and a boost to public water utilities’ sustainability.
A new joint initiative is aiming to drive declines in NRW faster, cheaper, and more sustainably by assisting water utilities to engage private companies in performance-based contracts (PBCs). The World Bank’s Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) and the Bank’s Water Global Practice, in partnership with the International Water Association, analyzed 43 projects and determined that NRW initiatives supported by PBCs are 68 percent more effective compared to those undertaken by utilities alone, (see for example, Using Performance Based Contracts to Reduce NRW) and are systematically faster at reducing the rate of loss.
Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) in transport infrastructure can offer significant efficiency gains compared to public procurement options—in the right circumstances. The gains accrue from allocating to the private sector those risks they are better able to handle than the public sector, such as those associated with construction costs.
Data backs this up: findings in Construction Risk in Infrastructure Project Finance from EDHEC show that for a large number of transport infrastructure PPP projects, (including roads), construction overruns are significantly lower at 3.3 percent on average compared to public procurement projects, with a 26.7 percent overrun average.
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The time is ripe to explore innovative ways to implement PPPs through a synthesis of sustainable and resilient best practices that progressively improve delivery and outperform original expectations.
During my recent travels as a PPP advisor to Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, I worked closely with public sector leaders who are increasingly focused on procuring a new generation of PPPs that are meaningful, sustainable, resilient, people-focused, and will support their governments’ goals of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
A government official from the Balkans had a concern about maturing PPPs in his country. Projects that had been launched at the end of communism were reaching the end of their lifetime and would be in a poor state when returned to the government by under-performing private sector partners who had not met their obligations to ensure the operations and maintenance would guarantee the government received back projects in good working order. Additionally, there was concern that if the perception arose that PPPs had resulted in “privatization of profits and nationalization of debts” that the potential for future PPP projects would be jeopardized.
These projects that could stop delivering once handed back to the public sector because of a lack of financial and human capital resources would set the country’s development agenda back—as it could not afford to build new projects and refurbish old ones at the same time.
What was needed were projects that continued delivering.
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There are many reasons why infrastructure projects often fail to materialize, meet their timeframe, budget, or service delivery objectives. Important examples include weak and insufficient planning and assessment of affordability as well as uncertainty over the rules of the game.
These issues severely constrain the ability of governments to mobilize finance to deliver key services that help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The World Bank estimates that achieving the SDGs would require some $4.5 trillion in public and private investment by 2030.
In light of the financing requirements for the SDGs, the World Bank has developed the Maximizing Finance for Development (MFD) approach to help governments and other stakeholders crowd in private sector solutions while optimizing the use of scarce public resources.
The World Bank Group and the African Development Bank, with support from key development partners, have organized the second Infrastructure Governance Roundtable, to be held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, June 21-22, to foster a robust dialogue on how best to improve infrastructure governance practices to create sustainable infrastructure, and to assist with building capacity in this area.
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Sometimes change creeps up on us. And we can step back and realize that the world is different. This rings true currently in the infrastructure space. Here are three examples:
It’s now commonly agreed that we won’t achieve the Sustainable Development Goals without the involvement of private sector solutions: management, financing, and innovation. Involving the private sector is no longer an “if” question. We’re beyond ideology and calls for more aid transfers. Now we’re looking at “how”—and under what circumstances—crowding in private solutions help deliver better access to infrastructure services while being fiscally, environmentally, and socially sustainable.
This is what the World Bank Group’s Maximizing Finance for Development initiative is about, for infrastructure and other sectors as well. Cameroon’s power sector is a good example, where sector reforms have been supported by public loans, which in turn have helped crowd in private and financing from development finance institutions (DFIs) for large investments like the 216 megawatt Kribi gas project.
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In developed countries, we tend to take infrastructure services for granted. It’s easy to forget, when living in London, Washington, or Singapore, how much lies behind the simple act of switching on the lights. But as a young person growing up in India in the 1960s, I knew what it was like to live with rampant electricity shortages and terrible roads. It was easy to complain about it, and we did. It seemed, then, that the solution was simple: government should simply cough up the money, get to work, and build the infrastructure.
But there was a lot more we didn’t think about.
Solutions to problems
are easy to find:
the problem’s a great
So wrote the Danish poet, inventor, and mathematician Piet Hein. Development finance wasn’t on his mind when he wrote those words. Neither was private sector development. Yet the observation is unmistakably true for the field: To formulate solutions, we must first understand the nature of the problems we are trying to solve.
It helps crowd in private investment to create markets in difficult places. In an era of limited government resources and donor funds, this is key to achieving sustainable development.
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In my line of work, we have a Holy Grail that many brilliant people have spoken, written, and toiled to achieve: attracting international institutional investors to infrastructure projects in emerging countries.
Yet, according to the recent World Bank Group report, Contribution of Institutional Investors to Private Investment in Infrastructure, 2011–H1 2017, the current level of institutional investor participation in infrastructure investment in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) is only 0.7 percent of total private participation.
This Bank Group report estimates that emerging countries need to invest $836 billion per year, or 6.1 percent of current service level of existing assets. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that more than $100 trillion is held by institutional investors—with around 60 percent of assets held by pension and insurance funds from advanced economies—making the amount mobilized for EMDE infrastructure look even more paltry.
But the siren song still rings clear—