Public Private Partnerships (PPP) system has been suggested as a suitable model to close the infrastructure gap in Botswana and the whole continent. This was revealed this week at a conference organised by Stanbic Botswana to engage stakeholders on PPP looking at the Botswana environment. The PPP Coordinator in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Orono Otweyo, said government funding alone is not sufficient to close the infrastructure gap in Africa due to several priorities. He said annually the continent needs about $93 billion to provide services and therefore it is important to look at PPPs as an alternative for infrastructure funding to relieve government of pressure. Presenting on the framework of the model whose policy was first adopted in 2009 and is currently going through revision, Otweyo said the good thing about such partnerships is that they happen outside the normal budgeting system. Otweyo described PPPs as a funding mechanism and infrastructure development tool. The PPP method, which is said to be common in South Africa where it has the highest number of successful projects in the continent, is touted as the next big thing that could result in well in time delivery of projects.
Some of the benefits of the PPP are that projects are delivered well in time and within budget with better levels of service delivery. It is also believed that increased participation of the private sector encourages foreign direct investment and plays a role in developing local private sector and also reduces pressure on government spending. According to Otweyo, the PPPs will function in such a way that a company would approach the office and table its idea, and then the said company will go on to conduct a feasibility on the project before reverting back with results of such study to allow for a tender to be put out inviting other companies to bid to undertake such project. This idea was rejected outright by the business community that attended the engagement with one urging government to consider such idea as the rights of that proposal are not protected. Otweyo said once the idea has been approved and put out for tender, the expectation is that consortium of private sector companies will bid and if a one conglomerate succeeds it will form a Special Purpose Vehicle that will undertake the project. Stanbic Bank Botswana Head of Corporate and Investment Banking, Sheperd Aisam said the challenges that the country faces are not government problems or private sector’s problems, and therefore the two should work together.