News (14)

ECA's forthcoming “Healthcare and Economic Growth in Africa” report

On the sidelines of this year’s UN General Assembly meeting, a meeting took place to discuss the preliminary findings of the ECA's forthcoming “Healthcare and Economic Growth in Africa” report, which addresses ‘public-private partnerships’ and calls for more African private sector involvement in healthcare. The full report is due for release next year. The sideline discussion was organized by the Economic Commission for Africa’s executive secretary, Vera Songwe, the Aliko Dangote Foundation (the corporate social responsibility arm of the Dangote Group), and GBCHealth, whose board includes Coronation Capital Nigeria Limited, Becton, Dickinson & Co., Chevron, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Deloitte Consulting, and MTV Networks International). ECA reports that “the preliminary report finds that neither government nor existing public-private partnerships are effective enough, and that existing PPPs disproportionately focus on a small number of countries. The preliminary report recommends a new model, one in which PPPs prioritize around the most significant disease burden and broaden their scope to benefit the health of the whole continent, which the ECA deems critical to driving long-term economic growth in Africa.”

Learning from Africa’s Experience of Privatization

To coincide with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s visit to the U.S., during which concerns were voiced about his stated intention to engage in widespread privatization of state-owned enterprises, Ewnetu Haile takes a look back over the recent history of privatization in Africa, periodizing it and offering some suggestions as to why it slowed or ground to a halt in the past. “Unsuccessful privatization programs are associated with high levels of corruption, poor value for money to the tax payer and increasing levels of inequality. On the contrary, the [LSE] paper notes, positive indicators for success would include strong government ownership of the process, well-designed and sequenced reforms, the implementation of complementary policies, the creation of regulatory capacity and good corporate governance structures, attention to poverty and social impacts, and strong public communication.” He adds that “privatizing health care and public transport may not be as successful as the profit motive is less important than public interest.”


Why do British charities want to shut down private schools in Africa?

Why would anyone who claims to care about the world’s poorest children try to shut down their schools? It’s strange and sad, but several British charities, in cahoots with some British unions, are making a concerted effort to close down hundreds of schools in Africa. They are doing this because they dislike private education, seeming not to care that this will destroy the life chances of thousands of desperate children, forcing them, at best, into state schools where the teachers are often absent, drunk or incapable.

Source: The Star, Kenya

Reflections on the international conference to save Lake Chad

Renowned international scholar Horace G. Campbell analyses an international conference held in Abuja, Nigeria to discuss the future of Lake Chad. But “the unspoken question of the meeting was the influence of large water privatization companies such as Veolia in discussions on the future of water resources in Africa. Water activists around the world have been able to reveal consistent prioritization of private profit at the expense of the environment and public interest. Hence, when the LCBC promotes the idea of public-private partnerships to save Lake Chad, it is not clear that the scholars in N'djamena have followed the controversies surrounding French water companies around the world.”


Indian private sector consultants promoting “public private partnerships” are fanning out to Africa, West Asia and elsewhere

Indian private sector consultants promoting “public private partnerships” are fanning out to Africa, West Asia and elsewhere. “PPP (public private participation) is a new animal for countries in West Asia. Most projects were till now fully government-funded, but with the crunch in resources, PPP is catching up fast. Many of these countries are hiring Indian consultants for both PPP and full privatization projects. Besides infrastructure, other sectors in focus include education, health care and transport. ‘It works, as they have never explored PPP as an option of infrastructure development,’ says Abhijit Bhaumik, a senior consultant with 26 years of experience who worked with firms like Feedback and others before going it alone. Bhaumik says that he spends most of his time in Tanzania and is soon starting a new project in China. In the last four to five years, he’s worked in Bangladesh, Kenya, Indonesia and Vietnam.”


Twenty young African trade unions leaders gathered to discuss remunicipalisation

Twenty young African trade unions leaders gathered in Abuja recently to discuss remunicipalization, PSI reports. “This meeting was the opportunity to discuss collectively the many reasons why it is key to defend the public ownership of essential municipal services, how to ensure fair public procurement processes and why it is in everyone’s interest to reclaim them for the public whenever they are contracted out to the private sector. Profit-oriented service procurement is not compatible with the general interest and the young trade union leaders uncovered many reasons why essential service privatization does not work for people.”

Source: PSI

Will African education be further privatized by private equity?

Will African education be further privatized by private equity? Morné van der Merwe, managing partner at Baker McKenzie’s Johannesburg office, “says an interesting development has been the emergence of Dubai as a hub for specific multinationals seeking investments into Africa. He sees privatization, which has been off the radar for some time, becoming more prominent and could provide a boost for future mergers and acquisitions. Education is another area to watch, as the creation of a growing middle class will increase demand for private education and could see local companies move cross border into this deal-making space.”


Linking Up: Public-Private Partnerships in Power Transmission in Africa

As Ghana moves ahead with its plans to privatize the Electricity Company of Ghana, the World Bank continues to push private energy financing across the continent by issuing a report titled “Linking Up: Public-Private Partnerships in Power Transmission in Africa.” However, recently the Nigerian Senate found that electricity privatization in that country has failed, and it called for a review. “On his own part, Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Mustapha Burkar, (APC, Katsina State) called for state of emergency in the power sector because all the measures that had been adopted were not working. He observed that distribution companies are the weakest point in the value chain, adding that the model adopted for the privatization has failed.”

Source: World Bank

Human Right to Health Campaign in Southern & French-speaking Africa

As the government moves towards privatizing public health services (while denying it is doing so), criticism mounts: “From 7 to 8 February, a sub-regional seminar initiated by the Public Services International (PSI) and the National Federation of Public Service Unions of Togo brought together in Lomé journalists and trade union and civil society actors from Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Benin, Chad, Cameroon, DR Congo, Nigeria, Niger and Guinea Conakry. And it was around the theme ‘Public Private Partnership and the Right to Health.’ (…) Participants expressed serious concern: ‘Does the form of contracting in question, in particular the PPP, guarantee the supply and access to quality care to which all Togolese citizens are entitled? What would explain the non-involvement of all social partners, civil society and users in the ongoing contracting process?’ To this end, workshop participants ‘express deep concern about the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and timeliness of such an approach for Togo, and ask the government to open a wide consultation with all stakeholders, including trade unions, civil society organizations and especially users, with a view to an inclusive, participatory and transparent process, call for the establishment of a national basis on this PPP contracting process as soon as possible."


Legal frameworks for “public private partnerships” in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Nigeria

Dentons’ (the global law firm) attorneys Neil Cuthbert and Udayan Mukherjee offer an analysis of legal frameworks for “public private partnerships” in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Nigeria. Regarding Nigeria, they write, “political instability with frequent changes in Government and/or changes in heads of the relevant ministries and, the overenthusiastic embracing of PPPs at the cost of properly understanding areas such as risk allocation have meant that PPPs are treated with some skepticism.”


Government cutbacks in the number of public service posts are clouding the future of graduates

Government cutbacks in the number of public service posts are clouding the future of graduates, especially black graduates. “A British Council report that looked into higher education in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana noted that this country's black graduates struggled to find work and were more likely to go for government jobs which were declining. The Universities, Employability and Inclusive Development report stated: "While white graduates have increasingly obtained employment in the private sector, black graduates have increasingly obtained posts in the public sector.”

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