From the Kenyan Debt Office to Washington: Sharpening skills in PPP fiscal risk management

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Robert Osudi is an economist at the Public Debt Management Office of the National Treasury of Kenya. In addition to working on debt policy, strategy, and risk management, his work in Kenya’s debt office focuses on analyzing fiscal risks, fiscal commitments, and contingent liabilities of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) pipeline projects. Robert is halfway through a four-month special assignment working with the Infrastructure, PPPs & Guarantees (IPG) Group at the World Bank Group as a PPP fiscal risk analyst under the auspices of the Global Secondment Program.
The secondment program offers an opportunity for selected officials of a member country, regional agency, development bank, international organization, academia, or private enterprise, to be appointed to the Bank for a specific period to enhance their skills, share knowledge, build strategic alliances, promote cultural exchange and diversification to contribute to the Bank’s work. Secondees are funded by the releasing organization.
We sat down with Robert to understand what he is learning during his on-the-job training in Washington and how he can apply that knowledge upon his return to Kenya.

Why did you want to come to the World Bank on this special assignment?
Working in the debt office in Kenya’s National Treasury, part of my job was to analyze fiscal risks from PPP projects. However, I had inadequate technical expertise and skills to do my work. The Government of Kenya requested the Bank to give me the opportunity to hone these skills. This is really important, because Kenya is embracing the PPP approach and has an ambitious pipeline of projects .

What you are learning at the World Bank?
I attend technical meetings, trainings, and I have a direct mentor and supervisor who is a PPP fiscal risk specialist that I report to, and together we analyze actual projects. Some of the activities I am working on are:

  • Developing a draft PPP fiscal risk and contingent liability-reporting template, tailor-made to advise management in the National Treasury.
  • Providing practical expertise in all aspects related to fiscal risk assessment and management in PPPs.
  • Providing support on modelling risk from actual data of PPP feasibility reports for potential projects and data from operational projects using the Public-Private Partnerships Fiscal Risk Assessment Model (PFRAM) and other risk assessment models. PRFAM is an analytical tool developed by the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to assist governments and country analysts in assessing potential fiscal costs and risks arising from a PPP project.
  • Participating in the PPP certification program.
  • Developing PPP fiscal risk management guidelines.
  • Working under the general direction of the practice manager in my group to undertake other activities related to fiscal risk assessment and management in PPPs.

How is the knowledge you are gaining applicable to your work in Kenya?
I am working with my supervisor one-on-one to analyze the implications of the feasibility study for the proposed Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit PPP toll road project. We are looking at possible fiscal risks it could create for the country, if implemented. We do modeling of project financials to see sensitivities around the impact on the budget. At the debt office, we knew partly how to do it, and now I can see so many angles I didn’t see before.

What are you looking forward to during your remaining time as a secondee?

I will be going on mission to Jordan as part of the team to meet with relevant ministries and to train staff from the Jordanian PPP Unit and Ministry of Finance on PPP fiscal risk management, which will be a great learning opportunity.

On a personal level, what are some of the differences between living in Kenya and Washington?

There are several similarities and slight differences. I am impressed with the consciousness about time management, and the great work attitude and morale. The quality of work and level of professionalism is world class. People are supportive and willing to help. On a personal level, I have experienced the efficient transport system. I come from a warm climate, so as it is getting colder here as we approach winter I am learning to cope with the weather quite well. And, the food is great though a bit different.

What are some of your takeaways from this experience and how will you apply your new knowledge upon return?

This is a fantastic experience. You learn from different kinds of people with diverse cultural backgrounds—I found it really fun and interesting to participate in the intercultural training sponsored by the Bank at our annual staff retreat.

My biggest goal is to ensure that, by the time I leave here, I am able to effectively advise the management team in Kenya's National Treasury , and share with my colleagues the professional experiences I gained while in Washington D.C.

I also look forward to continue doing more analysis and management of fiscal risk for different kinds of PPP projects, honing my skills, and learning more.

Related Posts:

Public-Private Partnerships: How does Kenya fare?
Acting it out first: Building capacity for PPPs in Kenya through role-playing and certification training
Kenya’s 3 keys to success: How to create an effective public-private partnership unit


Robert Osudi

Economist, Public Debt Management Office, National Treasury of Kenya

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