Like many countries, the Government of Botswana faces challenges in the delivery of public services infrastructure including their maintenance and operational obligations. New infrastructure needs to be provided and existing infrastructure upgraded to deliver public services more effectively and extend access to services to a greater number of the population. Under the National Development Plan 11, for example, development expenditure of over P100 billion is planned for the plan period 2017/18 – 2023/24 the bulk of which is to fund infrastructure projects in areas such as water, energy, tourism, agriculture, education and health, priority being given to the maintenance of existing infrastructure.
In order to deliver such needed capital investments whilst maintaining sound fiscal policies, there is need to look for support and collaboration from other sectors of the economy.
Public-private partnership (PPP) is one of the forms of such collaboration between government and the private sector. It is based on the recognition that both the public and private sectors can benefit by pooling their financial resources, know-how and expertise to improve the delivery of basic services to all citizens. It is one of the alternative means of financing the much needed public infrastructure and services.
Accordingly Government of Botswana is promoting the use of PPPs in developing and operating public infrastructure and related facilities. The following initiatives confirm Government’s commitment to the involvement of the private sector in financing and managing infrastructure projects:
· Adoption of the Privatisation Policy in 2000 aimed at providing an optimal balance between the public and private sectors to achieve sustainable economic growth
· Adoption of the PPP Policy and Implementation Framework in 2009 to create a conducive environment to encourage and attract private sector investors to play a greater role in procuring and financing of infrastructure projects
· Establishment of the PPP Unit in 2016 within the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to ensure successful implementation of the PPP Policy
PPPs are important in the context of the Botswana economy in terms of the strategic and operational choices they offer to Government. They are strategic in the form of fostering economic growth by developing new commercial and investment opportunities for citizen investors and foreign direct investment and increasing competition in the provision of public services. They are operational in terms of providing opportunities for efficiency gains in the form of better quality and more cost effective delivery of services by private sector participants.
By entering into a PPP, the delivery of a public service infrastructure is enhanced by accessing the private sector’s financial, managerial, professional and technical expertise. The necessary maintenance and operation of this infrastructure is also enhanced by private sector resources. This allows public services to be delivered more efficiently, which allows Government resources to be channeled into other areas where direct public investment and intervention is required.
Furthermore, involvement of the private sector, particularly citizen companies, in public service infrastructure provision enhances the role of the private sector in the economy of Botswana. Accessing private sector financing will develop and strengthen the Botswana financial capital markets and may stimulate additional foreign direct investment.