Sunday, May 9, 2021

Francistown city council in search of partners to build central business district

The mayoress of Francistown, Sylvia Muzila has appealed to the private sector to partner with Francistown City Council (FCC) to a 42 hectare piece of land into a Central Business District. Speaking during a Public Private Partnership (PPP) seminar hosted by Barclays Bank in Francistown, Muzila said the city council is currently facing dire financial problems, hence the need to partner with the private sector.

“We have a 42 hectare business plot which is lying idle and is currently being used as a golf course. Our vision is to develop this plot into a Central Business District by building modern offices, a convention centre, hotels, offices and even a mall as part of our efforts to transform Francistown into an investment hub by 2022. We are currently in the process of bush clearing the area. The only problem we have is lack of funding and we are appealing for partnership from the private sector,” said Muzila
She further pleaded with the private sector to also partner with the city council in developing the Francistown abattoir which is currently being operated by a private company. She said the abattoir would have been very successful if it was operated through a partnership between the city council and the private sector.
“We feel that the abattoir can be refurbished and become a success once the city council partners with the private sector,” she said
the Francistown abattoir was closed in 2011 after a damning report from the Department of Veterinary Services, which stated that it was unfit for use as it did not comply with the Livestock and Meat Hiegine Act. After the city council failed to refurbish the abattoir, it was then leased to a private company early this year.
Muzila said Public Private Partnerships (PPP) are important as they can help build much needed infrastructure such as roads, dams, street lights and sanitation. She added that communities look up to the local government for creation of employment and eradication of poverty.
“Public Private Partnerships are very important as they can help all of us improve our country’s economy and alleviate poverty. Our communities look to us as local authorities to create employment and eradicate poverty,” she said.
For her part, Barclays Corporate Director, Lesley Bradly said it was high time the private and public sector made a mark by playing a role in the sustainable development and growth of Botswana. She added that the infrastructural development gap that exists in the country cannot be closed by the local government alone.
“PPP’s facilitate and contribute to the funding landscape in Botswana as a solution to the already existing challenges. This initiative will serve as the building block to improving and developing infrastructure in Botswana. The government in partnership with the private sector is now able to provide needed skills sets that mutually benefit the parties,” she said.
She further said Barclays Bank views the PPP initiative as an opportunity to rise to the occasion and play a role in the development of local economies. He urged local governments to create space and attract the private sector to actively participate in the delivery of services and building of infrastructure.
In his presentation, the Barclays Bank Africa PPP’s financial expert, Andre Kruger said that although PPP’s are important in bringing in developments, local government and the private sector need to take caution before signing the PPP agreements.
“Most of the times failure of projects is a result of making decisions without adequate information. Options are not properly considered and project selection and designs end up not being optimal,” he said.
He further said the main reasons for failure of PPP’s seem to be unwillingness to invest sufficiently at the project design stage as well as poor feasibility studies. He also said at times business case development and contracting is rushed often to meet political objectives, while environmental and social impacts are frequently being glossed over, which also leads to failure.

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