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AFRODAD joined various stakeholders and regional Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that attended the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) regional conference that took place on July 2-3, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two day multi-stakeholder conference emanated from growing concern about southern African countries’ rising debt level, which threatens developmental aspirations.

Dr. Fanwell Bokosi, AFRODAD’s Executive Director represented the organisation as a panellist on one of tabled discussion topics: ‘Public-private partnership blessing or a curse?’ with a specific emphasis on the pros and cons of PPPs in the region. Other panellists included Ms. Caroline Chema Eric –World Bank, PPP Operations Officer; Mr. Isaah Mhlanga, Alexander Forbes Investment, Executive Chief Economist and Ms. Lebohang Pheko – Trade Collective, Senior Research Fellow.

PPPs in many instances have been found to be a useful tool to foster development. However PPPs also come with their form of negativity such as extended projects longevity, marginalisation of women and communities and increased public debt.

You see, PPPs are an opportunity for blended financing which enables governments to deliver services which would otherwise not be available. These partnerships are strategic for improving the efficiency, robustness and quality of public services. However Dr. Bokosi highlighted the other face of PPPs that cannot be overlooked. He tackled challenges that are associated with PPPs such as very high cost compared to public services and difficulties to negotiate and renegotiate. They are also risky and they often lack transparency and sufficient accountability. “There are very few PPPs that have delivered the developmental outcome that they set out to deliver” Dr. Bokosi emphasized.

AFRODAD’s position is that if in future African Countries wish to deal with PPPs, there is need to make a demarcation on specific projects which require PPPs since financing gaps will always be there. African governments should not be pressured to execute such projects in a rush there is need to plan for what is important and relevant for the betterment of the community that deserves better service delivery.

If you look at it analytically, PPPs are not always bad BUT there is need to approach PPPs in a sufficiently transparent manner that must be debated upon by both parties to achieve the intended outcomes. PPPs should put people first though they often do not!

Find out more on AFRODAD’s position on PPPs.