Public sector challenges in managing and promoting PPP projects

public-private partnerships (PPPs)

Notwithstanding the attractiveness of public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a vehicle of addressing communal housing and expansion of infrastructural and effective public service delivery,  the absence of capacity building remains one of the foremost difficulties in executing PPPs widely in Ghana and rest of African countries.

There is a low rate of PPP projects in Ghana, even though PPP actually became a national policy in 2004 with the launch of a national policy guideline. As variously stated, the key factor in the lack of PPP implementation could be lack of understanding and skills of local practitioners.

The World Bank’s Private Participation in Infrastructure Database lists 23 projects that reached financial close over 1990–2014, of which eight are independent power producer (IPP) projects (figure below). This article seeks to scrutinise the difficulties in executing PPP projects, focus on the capacity building of public officials in Ghana, as well as investigate the potency of interactions between identified challenges in the country.

Challenges of executing PPP projects in Ghana

Successfully training public officials in PPP will ensure promotion and expansion of private investors’ involvement in the country infrastructural development. However, despite the current government vision to rely on the private sector in infrastructure and services development, a number of capacity building-related challenges remain to obstruct the PPP application efforts of various government agencies.

The question can be asked of the Public Investment Division – a PPP unit established under the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to spearhead effective implementation of the policy – as to how many initiatives have been funded to promote private investors and help reduce overreliance on donors for funding.

As a matter of fact, the pace of PPP implementation in Ghana has been considerably slow, and more efforts from key stakeholders – including government, private investors, civil society groups and academics – are required in a national dialogue to see how adopting the PPP finance model can help reduce the country’s financial debt.

The World Bank report (2018) pointed out that for successful implementation of PPP projects, the capacity building for other government entities must be commenced by the PPP units established by government. However, within the Ghanaian context, despite these units (PPP finance Unit, and PPP coordinating unit) being responsible for the assessment, approval as well as coordination of all PPP projects, careful observations have revealed that there might be challenges faced by the PPP units in the promotion and execution of PPP projects in Ghana.

It is clear that the mere establishment of PPP units at the Ministry of Finance is not enough to make them effective. Moreover, whereas PPPs have been suggested as a strategy to deliver infrastructure and affordable housing in emerging economies, it’s [PPPs] still a relatively new concept (World Bank, 2016), and lack of capacity particularly remains one of the major problems in implementing PPPs.

However, the synergies and the role of capacity building in facilitating PPP implementation success are acknowledged in literature (World Bank, 2016; Osei-Kyei and Chan, 2018). For instance, various technical expects in Ghana have identified institutional capacity as a key determinant of PPP success in Ghana.

Suggested Solutions

Capacity building and training have been recognised to augment public officials’ proficiencies and experience in managing and executing PPPs projects in Ghana. There have also been repeated calls for government to focus on ‘government supervision of PPP projects’ and ‘knowledge management methods for PPP projects’. Secondly, there is also a need for national dialogue on identifying practical solutions to challenges affecting the capacity building around PPP projects in the various sectors of Ghana.

Therefore, the need to explore capacity building challenges and subsequent advocated solutions with PPP projects associated with developing countries such as Ghana becomes relevant. Hence, more efforts from key stakeholders – including government, private investors, civil society groups and technical universities – are required in a national dialogue to build the capacity of key stakeholders to help in the promotion and sustainability of PPP projects in Ghana (see figure below).


Personally, I think Cabinet – and for that matter government – should be interested in identifying the ‘capacity building’ challenges; which would provide them with an opportunity to develop appropriate local strategies and coping mechanisms specifically conducive for the Ghanaian public sector, so as to promote more PPP projects in the Ghanaian context.

Therefore, government through the PPP units at the Ministry of Finance needs to design and tailor specific training initiatives associated with capacity building programmes for various government agencies, in order to promote effective initiation and completion of PPP projects in the country. In addition, public servants can also be trained on other supplementary legislation and policies, including the Public Investment Management (PIM) Policy 2015, the Public Procurement Act 2003, and the Public Financial Management Act 2016 which will guide the PPP process.

>>> Paul Rex Danquah is a Researcher and Public Policy Analyst with considerable knowledge and expertise in Public Private Partnership, Leadership inspiration and Public Policy formulation. He is currently a Senior Management Consultant, Gimpa Consultancy and Innovation Directorate (GCID), the Consulting Division of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA). Contact the Author on 0205012686 / [email protected]


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