FRANCISTOWN: Corporate director at Barclays Bank of Botswana, Lesley Bradley has called on local governments to utilise Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in closing the existing infrastructure investment gap.
Bradley was speaking at a workshop on PPPs organised by the bank and the Francistown local government themed, ‘Public-Private Partnerships for Infrastructure Development in Botswana’ held at Marang Hotel on Tuesday. She indicated that it was about time both the private and public sectors make a mark by playing roles towards sustainable development growth in Botswana.
Bradley said PPPs facilitate and contribute to the funding landscape in Botswana as a solution to the already existing challenges. In addition, the initiative will serve as a building block to improving and developing infrastructure in Botswana. “There is a pool of ideas within the local authorities, however, they cannot convert those ideas into anything of value and that is where the private sector intervenes to move forward,” she said.
With infrastructure being a key component in driving economic growth, the critical issue facing many governments today is the limited funding available to embark on infrastructural projects.
“Government can influence this by putting in place the appropriate measures to promote private sector investment, such as setting out a long-term vision in terms of planning, fostering political and regulatory certainty and supporting the vision with financial concessions,” she said.
She added that the PPPs concept is still new in Botswana, therefore, there is a need to engage experts to infuse skills on the operation of the arrangement and carry the local authorities through an exercise.
Bradley noted that as a bank they saw this as an opportunity to rise to the occasion and play a role in the development of local economies.
Andre Kruger, public sector and PPP financing specialist at Barclays Africa emphasised the importance of long-term planning, both technical and financial since this will assist local governments functionaries to properly facilitate economic growth.
He said local governments need to create space and attract the private sector to actively participate in the delivery of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including addressing infrastructure needs.
For her part, the Mayor of Francistown Sylvia Muzila said partnerships are key in providing necessary infrastructure like roads infrastructure, street lighting and sanitation among others.She said Francistown City Council (FCC) has many areas in which they would like to partner with the private sector.
“FCC has land, however, lack of funds draw us back in developing the land hence the reason we would like to partner with the private sector,” she said. Muzila indicated that one of the land assets the FCC owns is the golf course grounds, which they aspire to turn into a Central Business District (CBD), however, the development of the land is not within government plans. She, therefore, suggested that PPPs arrangement be implemented in that area where the private sector will develop the land and pay rental fees to the FCC. She also noted that they are currently in the process of refurbishing the abattoir, which upon completion they want to engage the private sector in running it.