Photo Credit: Tim Wang via Flickr Creative Commons
According to the World Bank Group’s Private Participation in Infrastructure (PPI) Database, an estimated 10-30% of global infrastructure projects with private-sector participation in low- and middle-income countries are unsolicited, meaning the proposal was submitted by a private sector entity without an explicit request from a government to do so. The considerable use of this alternative procurement method, where the private sector rather than the government takes the leading role in initiating and developing a project, raises important concerns for public infrastructure practitioners at both technical and political levels due to the nature of unsolicited proposals (USPs). USPs offer potential opportunities for governments, but experience shows they can introduce several challenges, such as diverting public resources away from the strategic plans of the government, failing to attract competition, and ultimately leading to opportunities for corruption.
Past PPP Blogs introduced readers to the Caribbean Regional Support Facility, which ran a series of boot camp-style workshops to increase technical capacity among Caribbean government officials and achieve long-sought results. In our newest video blog from the field, Brian Samuel, a PPP Coordinator with the Caribbean Development Bank (and a former IFC staffer), explains how these PPP boot camps transformed talk into action. Brian's first installment of this series can be found here.
I recently had the chance to get to know dozens of forward-thinking, dynamic individuals from the public and private sectors. Despite their varied backgrounds, resumes, and perspectives, they shared one thing in common: they have all been influential in shaping the Asia Pacific PPP landscape. Our gathering was part of the IFC PPP Transaction Advisory Services Unit’s four-day Senior Training Program on PPPs and Project Finance, in collaboration with the Harvard Kennedy School in Singapore.
All of the participants – government representatives, donors, private sector clients, World Bank and MIGA staff, as well as senior IFC staff -- offered a different view on how best to combat today’s global PPP challenges. We captured a few key insights from the training program to share with others:
Editor’s Note: The World Bank Group is committed to helping governments make informed decisions about improving access to and quality of infrastructure services, including using Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) as a delivery option when appropriate. One of the PPP Blog’s main goals is to enhance the understanding of PPPs while eliminating misconceptions about them, ultimately enabling better decision making throughout every stage of the PPP cycle. To that end, the new “Mythbusters” series, authored by PPP professionals, addresses and clarifies widely-held misunderstandings.
In the PPP universe, both advocates and detractors use anecdotes to prove their points about PPPs and infrastructure. PPP successes and debacles are recycled endlessly to argue for one side or the other. But we can move past the myths, in part with the help of the World Bank’s Private Participation in Infrastructure (PPI) Project Database, which includes information on over 6,000 projects from 1984 onwards, capturing data across 30 fields, including contractual form, project closure date, location, contract duration, private sector partners, and multilateral support. By drawing on that resource, alongside other large data sets and comparative case studies, we can confirm or debunk PPP myths rooted in popular commentary. Here are a few examples that show how research can set rumors right.
In Bhutan, the only country that measures success on a scale of Gross National Happiness (GNH), government officials actively research ways to make residents’ lives happier. So when it became apparent that the growing number of vehicles in Thimphu, the capital city, was increasing traffic congestion and causing intense frustration among locals, the authorities started looking for a solution to restore contentment among its citizens.
If public sector organizations are to maximize the value from public-private partnerships (PPPs), they need to move their joint working within the public sector from transactional to collaboration to true partnership working. To do this requires them to move up the Staircase of Relationships (see previous blog).
In moving up the Staircase of Relationships, performance will improve within the public sector and the public sector will become a more effective partner with the private sector. Improvement in performance, however, is not enough. and to transform the performance that they achieve through PPPs.
Photo: Inova BH
In English, “Belo Horizonte” means “beautiful horizon,” and this is an apt description of the long-term possibilities for educating the children of Belo Horizonte, the sixth largest city in Brazil and capital of the state of Minas Gerais. As a Brazilian who went through the national school curriculum, I believe that this system should be accessible to all citizens, and so I took a particular interest in the goals of this public-private partnership (PPP).
Greater access to education was a widely-shared ambition among the government team as well. The Municipality of Belo Horizonte already believed that a competitive workforce – and a functioning society – depends on good schools. That’s why it made early education a top priority and sought out advisory services from our Brazil-based team to find out if PPPs could help government make the grade. It seemed like this was a proposal the community could stand behind: Demand for better education was already strong, with over 11,000 children, many underprivileged, on a waiting list to enroll in school.
Headlines about climate change often focus on food scarcity, but the problems facing the irrigation sector – which is critical to our ability to feed the future – are usually too complex to make it into the news. For stakeholders in the sector, however, the challenges are all too clear., such as:
The implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals presents an immediate challenge. In particular, the financing required for new infrastructure (including clean water, healthcare, and access to energy for all) is huge--amounting to about $5 trillion per year globally. Given limited government resources, a considerable amount of private finance will be required to fill this gap, and public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been seen as a possible modality through which to attract these additional resources.
If you were traveling through Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand in the fall of 2011, you already have a picture of the damage to infrastructure assets brought by unprecedented levels of rainfall. Water flooded every element crucial to airport operations – airplanes, runways, hangars – and all airport infrastructure was shut down until the crisis passed and repairs could be done. There was no option, as the airport was simply submerged.
But what if future infrastructure projects could be built with an option that allowed them to continue to operate even in the most catastrophic climate-related crisis? What if service delay interruptions were not inevitable, and economic losses were not inescapable?