January 25, 2016 By Alusine Sesay
National Coordinator of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Unit in the Office of the President, Abu Kamara, last Friday noted that in as much as the Unit was working assiduously to partner with private investors, the public needed to be educated on the use of public utilities.
“PPP is a way of delivering efficient services and the people should pay for those services. We try to create efficiency and value for government’s money and it is our responsibility to educate the populace on the use of public utilities,” he said.
The coordinator was responding to a question from a participant at a two-day training workshop for ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as well as members of the private sector.
He identified successful PPP projects, including the Addax Bio-energy project, a fisheries project in partnership with the African Development Bank and the Ministry of Fisheries, and the slipway project at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay.
He emphasised the need for sustainability and efficiency in projects, adding that that the PPP Unit was set up to reduce government’s dependent on donor support.
With support from the British government, through itsHigh Commission in Sierra Leone, two British experts – John Davie and Malcolm Dowden – led the two-day training of officials from government and members of the private sector on the PPP process.
The British experts, among other things, shared practical British and global experiences on PPP projects as well as some shortfalls in other countries, thus putting Sierra Leone on her guard.
Established by an Act of Parliament in 2014, under the Office of the President, the Unit is charged with the primary role of collaborating with, and providing technical support to MDAs and Local Councils in engaging the private sector to deliver public sector services.
The Unit is considered an important partner in harmonising and regulating relationship between public and private sectors in achieving win-win solutions to infrastructural development in Sierra Leone.
Speaking to Concord Times, the coordinator said that since the establishment of the Unit, several in-house trainings had been done and that they saw the need to cascade the information and knowledge gained to MDAs and members of the private sector.
“At the end of the session, we expect participants to have had a fair knowledge of the PPP projects and the benefits involve,” he said.
50 participants were drawn from various MDAs and the private sector to participate in the training at the Sierra Lighthouse, Aberdeen, west of Freetown.
Kamara added that PPP law was important because it creates the enabling environment for both the government and the private sector to effectively partner and enhance national development, adding that interest had been shown in the agriculture and energy sectors.
“PPP process is win-win especially when structured properly. If you have private partners that can implement effectively, government would achieve on a project with effective delivery of service to the public,” he said.
He said the Unit facilitates the process of identifying PPP projects, conducting pre-feasibility and feasibility studies to determine their viability and managing the PPP procurement process and then monitor and evaluate the implementation of the project.
He reiterated that PPP was important especially for Sierra Leone, which is an emerging economy, thus citing access to finance as key to the achievement of PPP goals.
The director expressed thanks to the British High Commission for their support in organising the training session for MDAs and the private sector.