On the 10th of August 2023, the Sterling One Foundation hosted the Africa Social Impact Summit’s inaugural day, themed “Global Vision, Local Action: Repositioning The African Development Ecosystem For Sustainable Outcomes”. The meeting initiated conversations about the pivotal role of collaborations and impactful public-private partnerships (PPPs) in driving swift economic recovery and advancement across Africa. When executed effectively, such collaborations offer Africa significant advantages, including accelerated economic growth, enhanced infrastructure, improved social services, and sustainable development.
In his Goodwill message, Will Stevens, Consul General of the United States Embassy in Nigeria (Lagos), highlighted the foundation of diplomatic relations in strong person-to-person connections, which foster trade, cooperation, and mutual respect. Also, Matthias Schmale, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator of the United Nations, emphasized the importance of ensuring that PPPs are driven not solely by profit, but also by social impact.
PPPs represent a dynamic and effective approach to addressing Africa’s intricate societal challenges while advancing infrastructure development. By uniting the strengths of the public (government) and private sectors (PPPs), African governments can facilitate the delivery of projects and services that were traditionally within the domain of government agencies. This collaborative model allows the private sector to contribute financing, innovative solutions, and efficient project delivery, all while generating profits. However, the essence of impactful PPPs – beyond profit-making- facilitates the creation of meaningful change.
Also discussed is the central role African governments should play in the collaborative ecosystem with the private sector. According to Schmale, the role of governments is paramount in stimulating and guiding PPPs through the establishment of the regulatory framework, distributing risks equitably, ensuring project alignment with public interests, and facilitating productive collaboration with the private sector. Invariably, the foundation of comprehensive policies provides the essential structure for PPPs initiatives, defining the roles and responsibilities of both partners and ensuring a harmonious working relationship. “Having government on the table is crucial in achieving maximum social impacts in various economic sectors,” said Schmale.
When it comes to PPPs, the government is better empowered and has the capacity and structure needed to drive outcomes. Their influence extends to project selection and viability assessment within PPP relationships. This also involves careful scrutiny of projects to determine their alignment with national development goals and their potential to generate public value. Moreover, governments play a crucial role in cultivating the necessary capacity to navigate the intricacies of PPPs.
The diverse insights shared during the ASIS2023 Summit underscore the multifaceted role that African governments must play in nurturing PPPs. They also highlight the government’s ability to effectively oversee projects and safeguard the interests of all stakeholders. As African nations harness the potential of collaboration and PPPs to bridge infrastructure gaps and elevate public services, strategic and proactive government engagement remains pivotal in propelling these collaborations toward resounding success.