For construction stakeholders, public-private partnerships are arguably the most exciting and lucrative source of future business opportunities
Ashley Williams analyses how public-private partnerships will be the next business opportunity
The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and volatile oil prices has put serious question marks on the region’s up-and-coming projects for years to come, but there does seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel through private sector partnerships.
Historically governments have invested heavily into infrastructure projects and public assets such as hospitals, schools, transport and more, but public-private partnerships (PPPs) have previously been slow to get off the ground.
This has been due to a variety of reasons: lack of supportive legal and institutional frameworks, projects that are not attractive to investors, and the hesitation to hand over state assets to private developers.
In a post- COVID-19 world, we are witnessing the latest trend within the construction industry.
Governments across the region are turning their focus to alternative project finance solutions, and PPP contracts are taking shape.
PPPs provide a model that allows governments to continue developing strategic projects and services without the need to increase direct state capital spending.
According to industry reports, the latest pipeline of PPP projects stands at 242 worth an estimated $223bn being developed within the region. Interestingly, before the pandemic arose in February 2020, the Abu Dhabi government intended to procure nearly $2.7bn worth of tenders for infrastructure projects in 2020.
The most recent example of largescale PPP contract announcements came from Saudi Arabia’s gigaproject, The Red Sea Development Company, where they awarded a major PPP utilities package with ACWA Power.
Others from the Kingdom include the Saudi Water Partnership Company (SWPC) and the KSA Ministry of Housing through its residential construction programmes.
During our Leaders in Construction KSA Summit in September, Mott MacDonald’s managing director, Christopher Seymour, alluded to PPP’s growing significance in the Kingdom, adding that “KSA is the largest PPP market at present and is far stronger than Dubai.”
In the UAE, there is movement with using internal resources to leverage public-private partnerships to not only increase in-country value, but boost industrial development.
Dubai’s RTA Union 71 project, Saahat Deira project, as well as its Bus Shelters project have been spurred on by PPP initiatives.
A key enabler for future success in the construction industry will be active engagement, increased collaboration and enhanced transparency with both the public and private sector to ensure that regulatory and legislative frameworks are optimal, relevant and adapt to the realities of today.
Through PPP’s, we have a formidable opportunity to realise ambitions that are flexible enough to provide the right platform for the change and growth that we will need in the decades ahead.
“ACCORDING TO INDUSTRY REPORTS, THE LATEST PIPELINE OF PPP PROJECTS STANDS AT 242 BEING DEVELOPED WITHIN THE REGION”