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Africa is a fertile ground for development projects thanks to its wide range of resources — renewable and conventional. However, the government or the public sector alone cannot sponsor these projects. This, therefore, requires countries to engage in public-private partnerships (PPPs).

The continent lacks adequate infrastructure to secure energy, efficient transport, reliable communication systems, and affordable housing. This presents a major challenge to Africa’s socio-economic growth thereby posing a big problem in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Due to lack of funds to finance infrastructure projects, most countries especially emerging markets and developing economies are pursuing PPP in order to pull capital from the private sector.

Partnerships, therefore, will be bringing countries together, thus creating a better field for success. Cultures, innovations, technologies, and expertise can be integrated through partnerships. From February 28 to March 3, 2018, Powering Africa Summit held in Washington D.C and brought investors from around the globe to present energy projects, discuss investment opportunities and build relationships.

Decision makers from American and African public and private sectors at the summit explored ways to increase project bankability.

Africa has untapped resources that need funding to address the present and future challenges faced in the infrastructure sector. According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Africa can achieve nearly a quarter of its energy needs with the use of local, clean, renewable energy by 2030.

However, for this to be possible, African governments have to partner with both international and local enterprises.

African leaders request for partnership

African leaders calling for partnership at the Africa Business and Investment Forum in January 2018, Ethiopia

A World Bank report titled “Linking up: Public-private partnership in Power Transmission,” states that the private sector can finance, build and maintain Africa’s electricity transmission (also known as the independent power transmission model — IPT).

It also explains that power generation is a major factor to get electricity across thousands who are in need. This is usually very costly between $3.2 billion and $4.3 billion and cannot be achieved by state-owned electricity utilities alone.

Organizations encouraging Public-Private Partnership

Among others, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) is one of the institutions that encourage PPP. It held its first Public-Private Partnership Forum in March 2017, in Saudi Arabia. The forum had as aim to expose the 57-member countries to opportunities and challenges that PPP presents.

Some of the wealthiest countries are members of IsDB while others are least developed countries. Other countries face infrastructure challenges due to conflicts. In such regions, there is need to rebuild and rehabilitate seriously damaged infrastructures. This requires a huge investment.

Presently, the Islamic Development Bank has a PPP portfolio of 44 transactions in 17 countries valued at $80 billion. This shows how serious it is in its consideration of public-private partnership. IsDB will work taking into consideration UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals among which it has prioritized six.

The six include; water and sanitation, good health and wellbeing, quality education, industry innovation and infrastructure, sustainable cities and communities; and affordable and clean energy.

Infrastructure

In June 2014,  Ventures Africa published an article on five African countries shortlisted as fields for PPP to invest in infrastructure. They included Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania and Nigeria. Kenya needed about $4-5 billion per year till 2020 to invest in infrastructure.

Despite her vibrant and fast-growing economies, Ghana still has to develop her infrastructure sector. The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Seth Terkper, had insisted that the country requires $1.5 billion to meet its infrastructure deficit.

It is certain that PPP cannot entirely solve Africa’s socio-economic problems. However, PPP has a vital role to play in providing significant funds where rich projects pop up.

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