Our Correspondent MOSES FERDINAND talked to the Manager, PPP Coordination Unit of the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), Mr Saidi Amiri, who explains how PPP Units functions. Excerpts…
QUESTION: Can you explain what does Public Private Partnership (PPP) Act say?
ANSWER: The PPP Act came as a result of a PPP policy that was established in 2009. One year later we went into parliament where the Act No 18 was enacted. So, in essence this Act established PPP Units. These are Coordination Unit at TIC and Finance Unit at the Ministry of Finance. Last year, we developed regulations for the implementation of this Act and functioning of these two units started functioning. The Coordination Unit which is at TIC mostly focus on key core functions which are to coordinate and promote PPP projects, because apart from the good legal framework we really need good projects.
Upon doing so we are repackaging projects and write recommendations to the Finance Unit on the projects that we wish to undertake through PPP. Contracting authorities that are line ministries, government departments and agencies and local government structures will identify particular projects both during pre-feasibility and feasibility stages and from there we will see if they fit to proceed under PPP. Normally, when we receive a project we analyse it under an independent committee of experts of the Unit who advises and writes recommendations.
Based on these recommendations we decide whether we are satisfied with that project and submit it to the Ministry of Finance where they do financial and risks analysis before the Ministry signs it into PPP. Q: What does it seek to achieve? A: PPP seeks to address some of the challenges that have been put forward in the Five Year Development Programme and the Vision 2025. The government cannot implement all of the projects, so they need to look for the private party to perform functions that have been traditionally performed by the government. The government would not have the capacity to implement all these projects be it financial capacity or other sort of resources. So, PPP is one of the solutions that the government has identified as a way forward.
Q: Are there specific areas that PPP focus in Tanzania?
A: Traditionally, examples from many parts of the world PPP has been associated with infrastructure. But in the case of our country we cut across almost in every sector. We have a very clear development plan on what we want to achieve. We are really guided by the Five Year Development Plan and Vision 2025. Some of the areas are infrastructure, energy, agro processing and agriculture. We cut across all sectors. As long they are in line with the national development programmes, they fall within our mandate.
Q: How will PPP help in creating conducive investment climate in Tanzania?
A: It has a potential and one of them will be cutting investment cost. For example, the moment we have good roads, goods are able to move from one place to another at a cheaper cost. For example, as long as we are able to address infrastructure challenges that we have, then we are improving investment climate in the country.
Q: Are the people in the private sector ready to get into this partnership?
A: Yes. I would say that PPP is not new into Tanzania though we have done it without a clear legal framework. People understand it but what is more important is that the law calls for empowerment of the people. It advocates for a wider participation of Tanzanians in nation building. We will work closely with them; PPP will come up with several projects. We are looking forward into having long and fruitful relationship especially with the local financial institutions in terms of inviting them to invest into PPP projects.
Q: Can you point some successes that you have registered?
A: We are a new kid on the block but the reaction has been overwhelming. We have received a number of projects from line ministries, agencies and local governments. Some of them are really good projects that we are looking forward to implement through PPP. I would not say specifically which are they because we are still screening them in order to build a project pipeline. What I would like to say is that they should be on the look when the pipeline is out but most of them cut across every sector from airports, ports and railways projects. But, we cannot rush and implement each project; we need to see which one to start with.
Q: Project implementation is a challenge. How well are you prepared to make sure that PPP projects are implemented smoothly and successfully?
A: I agree with you because identifying and signing a project is one thing and implementation is another thing. When you look at our legal framework that is the area we have emphasized as well. That is monitoring and evaluation issues. The office of Attorney General, the Finance Unit and (our Unit) coordination unit will be looking on the performance of these contracts after they start implementation.
TIC is the custodian of the national PPP registry, so from time to time contracting part will be required to report to TIC on the status of these projects. Apart from that immediately after the project has been approved by the Ministry of Finance, the contracting authority, be it a line ministry, government agency or a local government, will be required to appoint a project development team.
That independent team might come from a diverse background who will give a bird’s eye view of the project in terms of where this project is heading and if there will be necessary intervention required during the implementation stage. So, there will be somebody independent at the top looking at how the project is performing, but also you have your own team on the ground looking at that particular project.
Apart from that, the way we package these project will make sure that these projects will be implemented with ease to avoid any potential of a project go wrong.
Q: What do you envision out of this Unit some five years to come?
A: This is our Unit, it is a Tanzanian unit. We are really hoping that in five years time we would have started implementation of good projects. We have a good start which is really encouraging. The cooperation that we have received from ministries and other government agencies tells us that there is a potential for good projects.