There is a place where the Nile is born, and the locals can show you exactly where it is. It is quite a privilege to see it in person—a place that was searched for by generations of explorers in Africa. I am talking about that spot on the northern bank of Lake Victoria where the White Nile first enters the world. Another important birth is taking place nearby in a ritzy neighborhood of Kampala called Munyonyo.
At an upscale resort in this neighborhood, Ugandan president Museveni is hosting over 1000 delegates from a number of African countries (including 4 other presidents) to discuss how to move ahead in the transformation of Africa. The first day of dialogue kicked off with a strong call for public private partnerships (PPPs). When I was in Munyonyo last year to hold a Regional PPP Forum for Anglophone Africa, we had no idea that only a year later our efforts to push PPPs in Africa would receive the endorsement of the top of the public sector pyramid—the most basic element required to get a PPP off the ground. This clearly happened in Munyonyo this year, and it is not just the political endorsement of one country or one president but the consensus of Africa.
Nowadays PPPs are growing strong roots in Africa. I remember a couple of years ago when African PPPs were synonymous with South Africa, which first pioneered PPPs on the African continent and when it established a strong PPP Unit at the Ministry of Finance. Over the last few years, I have heard many pieces of news regarding PPPs coming from the region. A number of countries have transformed their privatization capacity into a capacity for PPPs, building new institutions and policies and adopting necessary legislation. South Africa has been followed by Mauritius, which set up a PPP Unit and established a PPP Policy in 2003. Other African countries have gotten involved in PPPs on a project-by-project basis: the Maputo Port concession in Mozambique of 2003, the Songas Processing Plant in Tanzania of 2004, the Skikda Desalination Plant in Algeria of 2005, the Lesotho National Hospital in 2007 and most recently the Ugandan Power PPP project at Bujagali.
When you look at the map of PPPs in Africa today, you can clearly see that PPPs have taken strong roots, and with the sort of political support that the 19th Global Smart Partnership Dialogue provided in Munyonyo this year, I expect Africa to become a regular player in the global PPP market.