Promoting Partnerships: ALSF organizes workshop at the 2nd International Forum on Financing PPPs

06/12/2017
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Infrastructure systems in the African region have largely strained to meet the growing demands of the public, and shrinking national investments have threatened to worsen already troubling infrastructure gaps. But solutions exist to unlock finance and improve governance: Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) offer an efficient alternative to public sector financing, as they tend to benefit from lower cost overruns, more innovation, and an optimization of comprehensive life-cycle costs. With the aim of promoting PPPs, the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) co-organized a pre-conference workshop on the margins of the 2nd International Forum on Financing Public-Private Partnerships, held in Dakar, Senegal, from December 4-6, 2017.

Held on December 4, and organized in collaboration with the Direction for Financing and Public-Private Partnerships (DFPPP) of the Senegalese Ministry for the Promotion of Investments, the ALSF workshop was designed to encourage business governance in the area of PPPs by providing the occasion for a lively exchange of ideas and experiences between professionals in the African region.  

A first half-day session was held to discuss the pros and cons of state equity participation in project companies engaged in infrastructure development on the African continent. As many in the sector are aware, the effects of state equity on value and performance are not yet clear. As a result, the workshop invited its 92 participants to explore and respond to a litany of critical questions: What are the risks associated with state equity, particularly in volatile markets? How can governments calculate the current and future value of State-owned shares? What challenges are associated with the ambiguities of ownership and control?

A second half day session focused on the management of the post-contractual stage of PPP projects, namely:

  • What are the monitoring prerogatives of public authorities?
  • How can an assessment and follow-up system be established that will ensure the efficient implementation and management of a PPP project?
  • Are renegotiations possible and must they be avoided?
  • How can amendments or unexpected changes to PPP contracts be managed and processed?
  • Must a specifically-mandated body be set up to resolve conflicts resulting from the implementation of PPP contracts?

“The session on States equity participation allowed African Government Officials to discuss practical challenges on how Governments can reconcile their role as members of management boards of private entities with their responsibility as regulators, when setting up a project company. The second session on post-contractual management of PPPs highlighted tools that State Administration can use to effectively monitor PPP contracts and ensure their smooth implementation,” explained ALSF Legal Counsel Helene Nse Eyene, who helped co-organize the event.

The sessions were facilitated by legal counsel from FSD Conseils (Bamako), Herbert Smith (Paris), Houda law firm (Dakar) and Geni & Kebe (Dakar). While these questions evade easy resolution, the workshop benefitted from the participation and attendance of high-level experts, the heads of national PPP units, and other professionals involved in PPP management. The one-day workshop capitalized on the engagement of its audience with these topics by analyzing national and regional projects in Africa, and recommending the best possible financing options. In this manner, the event had real-world effects and aligned closely with the mission of the ALSF: To deliver technical assistance to African countries in negotiation of complex commercial transactions.