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Free, French course on PPPs offers customized case studies, relevant regional perspectives

Olivier Fremond's picture



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This post was originally published on the Voices blog.

As a former country manager in Benin, my team and I advised the national administration on the Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) Project Law then under consideration and engaged in PPPs. This effort took place after the private sector, both domestic and international, made a strong commitment to finance large infrastructure programs. Timing is everything, of course, and the window for passing the legislation through parliament before legislative elections was tight – ultimately, too tight. A better understanding of PPPs and the options these partnerships can offer to a country like Benin, which needs substantial infrastructure investments, would have helped the process tremendously.

​A PPP Manifesto: Getting where we need to go

Jeff Delmon's picture
Some PPPs succeed. Some don’t. And many of these partnerships stake their ground somewhere in-between: they are effective but still fall short of a result or two; they deliver but with less efficiency than intentioned; they innovate but not at the scale envisioned.  In other words, PPPs’ potential is being fulfilled, but certain changes need to be made – urgently, and at the highest levels – so these partnerships can achieve their true potential. 

How?

I’m glad you asked. Many decades of PPP experience and many conversations over cocktails with colleagues on the public and the private side of these deals has prompted this call to create partnerships that can do an even better job serving people around the world. Here are four areas that must be addressed:

Preparation
A well-prepared project is a successful one; yet, we need more. More funding to prepare projects and to prepare governments for the demands of PPP from start to finish. More time to get things right, especially identifying the right partner and agreeing on how the partnership will work. More technical support for governments, since PPP is a huge leap from their usual business of public service and they therefore need extra help and advice.

There are some technical assistance funds available, but too few, too far between, and providing too little capacity. One interesting approach is to provide funding to existing entities with capacity, with a financial interest in the relevant project. This links the project preparation funding with a clear incentive to bring the project to fruition, and for this reason has achieved some important success in helping to prepare projects.

Learning Public-Private Partnerships

David Lawrence's picture

 
Long ago, when I was stationed abroad with IFC, I joined a visiting colleague in a meeting with a senior government official to talk about public-private partnerships (PPPs). A few junior officials were also there, busy scribbling down everything my colleague said. He talked about the benefits of private sector participation in infrastructure, health and education; he described the various forms PPPs could take; he explained how IFC could provide transaction advice. The official, a man nearing retirement with grey hair and professorial glasses, nodded silently as he listened.
 
“Are you following everything?” asked my colleague. “If not I’ll be glad to explain anything that isn’t clear.”
 
“I understand,” he said. “Please continue.”
 
But I could tell from his body language that he didn’t understand anything at all. And I knew he would never admit a lack of knowledge in front of his subordinates. But there was another reason I suspected the official wasn’t being entirely forthright: I could barely follow the discussion myself.
 
After the meeting I googled “public-private partnerships” to give myself a crash course. There were literally millions of information sources, but most were difficult to follow. I ground through a few articles and slowly began to understand. But what of the official? At his level of English, it would be nearly impossible for him to educate himself about PPPs.
 
Why was this a problem? Because the country in question very desperately needed to rebuild its crumbling infrastructure, inject new life into its healthcare system, and bring educational institutions to a higher level. Through PPPs, private sector could potentially contribute financing, managerial expertise and technical know-how to help government address these challenges. But since so few policymakers understood how PPPs worked, it would be hard to tap into these resources.

Helping communicate the potential of PPPs through a new, free online course

Clive Harris's picture
The World Bank Group’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity can’t be achieved unless we see a huge boost in the quality and quantity of infrastructure services. Boost infrastructure and do it right and you can generate jobs and boost economic growth. Improving sanitation and access to clean water is essential to improve health outcomes. 
 
According to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, “Today, the developing world spends about $1 trillion on infrastructure, and only a small share of those projects involves private actors. Overall, private investments and public-private partnerships in developing countries totaled $150 billion in 2013, down from $186 billion in 2012. So it will take the commitment of all of us to help low- and middle-income countries bridge the massive infrastructure divide.”
 
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) can be an important way for governments to help supplement the role of the public sector in meeting the infrastructure deficit.  But PPPs are controversial – there have been some high profile, expensive failures, and some stakeholders feel the private sector should not be involved in providing basic infrastructure services like water. 
 
On the flip side, many have over optimistic expectations for PPPs. PPPs are often not easy to do or to get right and governments need to make sure they are choosing projects suitable for the PPP approach. Through a variety of initiatives and collaboration with partners – including the world’s main multilateral lending institutions – we are helping clients better understand both the potential and limitations of PPPs, including helping them assess when a PPP is the right option and when it is not, and how to procure and manage these projects effectively.

Our free massive open online course (MOOC) – “How can PPPs help deliver better services?” – will help participants gain an understanding of when, how and why to implement PPPs, based on real examples of what has made for successful PPPs and what has led to failures. Students will gain insights into the PPP life cycle and its challenges, from project selection to implementation. Whether you are a PPP practitioner, policy maker or completely new to the subject of PPPs there is something here for you.