Transforming Africa’s transport sector through Public Private Partnerships

01/12/2015
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One of Africa’s biggest infrastructure challenges is to be found in the transport sector and the negative financial and economic impacts of this deficit cannot be stressed enough. “Financing-Public Private Partnership, how to push for more?” was the title of a panel discussion held at the African Development Bank (AfDB) headquarters on Friday, November 27 in Abidjan. 

The discussion focused on what private investors are interested in and the type of policy, legal and regulatory frameworks that are favourable for public private partnerships (PPPs) for project financing in the transport sector.

In his opening remarks, Abayomi Babalola, Division Manager of the Transport and ICT Department (OITC), set the stage of the discussion with the following terms: “Today, we want to talk about Africa’s experience. What has been done, what were the successful cases and unsuccessful cases of PPPs, what the intermediary process was like and what do we need do to push for more PPPs?”

For Kodeidja Diallo, Director of the Private Sector Department at AfDB, PPPs provide balanced solutions for accelerate infrastructure provision in a continent made up of over 50 countries with low connectivity between them.

Speaking at the event as a panelist, she highlighted the benefits of PPP arrangements: freeing up of public resources; on time and on budget project delivery; optimal risk allocation to ensure bankability; accelerating infrastructure development and economic growth and poverty reduction. But she also pinpointed some of the challenges common to PPPs in the transport sector such as mitigating risks associated with PPP projects and project size and complexity.

The event participants benefited from the presentation from PPP experts and practitioners of case studies and lessons learnt from AfDB-funded projects in the transport sector. These included the SANRAL Road Network in South Africa; the Lagos Lekki Port Project in Nigeria and the Dakar-Diamniadio Toll Road in Senegal.

One resounding conclusion of the panel discussion was that for Africa to position itself as the next land of economic opportunity, African Governments need to improve the maintenance of their existing infrastructure as well as invest in climate-resilient infrastructure.

The panel discussion was organized as a side event of the first-ever African Development Bank Transport Forum (ATF).