The Botswana Insurance Fund Management (Bifm) on Tuesday signed the first government project with Public Private Partnership (PPP), Plot 21 office accommodation project. It is hoped that the signing will mark the start of a series of government procurement, which recognizes the private sector as a critical partner in the delivery of goods and services.
Speaking at the contract agreement ceremony held at Phakalane Golf Estate, the Minister of Works and Transport, Lesego Motsumi, said that this marked the achievement of a significant milestone, not only with respect to the development of Plot 21, but more, importantly, to the provision of infrastructure through PPP projects in Botswana. She said this is a process that will lead Batswana to break away from their long established practices of infrastructure provision in order to develop more cost effective ways of delivering infrastructure to people hence enhance their quality of life.
Though this is the beginning of a government partnership, an uptake of PPP projects is expected to be seen once the Botswana PPP Implementation Strategy is adopted as the strategy is in its final stage of development. Looking forward, the minister said they also expect PPPs to provide a major boost to the construction industry as well as to the wider improvements to the industry.
?In our rapidly changing world, our public services need to meet the rising expectations of the wider community, hence the best way to deliver will be through a combination of the public and private sector initiatives, said Motsumi.
She stated that the government is committed to partnerships with the private sector in order to deliver quality services that this country deserves. It is their conviction, she said, that these partnerships would enable the public sector to greatly benefit from the private sector?s dynamism and innovation.
?Indeed, it has been the government?s desire to promote the private sector as the engine of growth,? said Motsumi. ?However, this drive would be difficult to achieve without the government playing a meaningful supporting role, recognizing the fact that the economy is pretty much in the hands of the government.?
According to Victor Senye, the Chief Executive of BIFM, the key challenge for Botswana, amongst others, is to achieve economic diversification away from the mineral sector as well as to fight poverty.
?PPPs are undeniably a step in the right direction, and if structured properly, this should lead to wealth generation in the hands of citizens and also sustainable employment,? said Senye.
As one commentator once put it, he said, the operations of government can be equated to farming. In farming, Senye continued, one has to ensure that they choose the right site in terms of soil quality and water availability. Likewise, Senye pointed out, the government has to ensure that a conducive environment is created within the economy, monetary and legislative framework.
?Government spending in this regard is similar to planting in the ground. If the environment is appropriate, the seeds should blossom. A farmer does all this to be able to harvest for the benefit of his family. Likewise, government should do all this for the ultimate benefit of its people,? he said.
Senye noted that there is a legitimate expectation that implied this level of spending would, to a large extent, be of benefit to Botswana. This is expected to cover project funding, procurement of local goods and services, sub-contract work, shareholding of the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV), and employment.
?This project, expected to be finished next year, is going to cost the government an annual unitary payment of P9 975 million, which would be subjected to annual escalations by the CPI,? said Jimmy Modise.