How Namibia innovates in the field of PPPs
By Martin Inkumbi
The term 'Public Private Partnership' (PPP) has come into vogue again with references made to the form of enterprise as a tool for economic development at the UN Conference
on Sustainable Development in Rio in 2012. The PPP is defined as a joint venture between the public and private sectors, in which the public sector achieves certain social goals
and the company achieves a profit.
Examples of the fields of endeavour
with which the PPP is
associated include power generation
and distribution, water
and sanitation, refuse disposal,
pipelines, hospitals, school
buildings and teaching facilities,
stadiums, airports and air
traffic control, prisons, railways,
roads, information technology
Unfortunately when the term
PPP is mentioned images
spring to mind of men and
women signing important contracts
for major capital projects,
and the opportunities for these
are few and far between.
However, taking a different
view, that of private projects
which achieve social goals, and
involve government participation,
shows the field in a different
Perhaps the most obvious
example of successful PPPs can
be found in the field of mobile
telecommunications and data.
The government has the social
goals of widespread communication
and spread of internet
Mobile telecommunication companies in Namibia achieve
these goals, while generating a
return for shareholders and
yielding the reserves with
which to develop their operations.
NamDeb is another obvious
example. Its sound business
approach ensures that it is viable
in the long term, and it has
made a significant contribution
to development and employment,
and is a contributor to
These are larger projects.
There are a huge number of
smaller projects that go unnoticed.
A lodge built on conservancy
land involves an agreement
between the community
and the lodge operator.
The agreement has to be ratified
by the Ministry of Environment
and Tourism, so this
too is a form of PPP.
TIPEEG involves multiple
PPPs where companies tender
to deliver infrastructure.
Viewed in a different light,
PPPs are evidently thriving in
Namibia, however there is
room to further develop the
field of enterprise, particularly
with regard to revenue streams
for projects which entail more
than the initial capital projects.
One of the core aspects that
challenges the concept of PPPs
is the idea that the state should
be the sole provider of services
that are traditionally considered
to be public services. By accepting
that certain capital projects
and services can be developed
and rendered by the private sector,
public sector resources can
be directed elsewhere.
Examples of this at work can
be found in private education,
and private medical facilities.
As illustrated by the examples
above, it is quite possible
for the public and private
sectors to coexist, provided that
agreement can be reached on
quality and pricing of services
between the sectors. The areas
where PPPs can operate is as
diverse as developmental need.
One of the areas which immediately
springs to mind is the
need to develop serviced land
for housing, with the participation
of local authorities and
town councils. Health services
are a field that can also benefit
from long-term partnerships
between the public and private
sectors. Education is another
field which may be considered.
For capital projects, DBN has
a very specific and tailored approach
to PPPs and regards this
option as an important developmental
tool in the development
of the country's infrastructure.
In its mandate, DBN undertakes
to consider financing
the development of infrastructure
projects undertaken either
by local authorities or state
owned enterprises together
with private sector operators
within a Public-Private Partnership
arrangement. Finance options
by DBN include direct
loans for PPP enterprises, subordinated
debt, or participation
in syndication facilities.
I strongly believe that public-
private partnerships will
progressively play a vital role
in closing the development
When managed effectively,
PPPs not only provide much
needed new sources of capital,
but also bring significant discipline
to project selections, construction,