Governments of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have been urged to leverage public resources with the private sector to close the infrastructure gap.
First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, who made the call, stressed that pooling private sector resources and expertise could deliver efficient public infrastructure and services.
Hon. Osei-Owusu was speaking on behalf of the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Ocquaye at a Joint Committee meeting of the ECOWAS Parliament in Accra on the theme, “Public-Private Partnership: An alternative source of funding for community programmes and projects.”
He argued that sufficient resources are in the hands, pockets and bank accounts of the private sector capable of financing public infrastructure if tactically annexed.
He indicated that central governments are often left to find scarce resources to finance infrastructure and yet many private citizens have constructed very expensive edifices in areas within the ECOWAS states that do not even have roads or sanitation infrastructure.
Harnessing this private sector finance, he said, can potentially free up government sources for other equally important services and reduce the debt stock of nations with the attendant repercussions on the economy.
He stated, “The importance of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) requires institutional and legal framework aimed at developing and implementing projects to be put in place.”
“The importance of PPP is to strengthen the mobilization, management and coordination and provide financial resources for investment in diversified portfolios for infrastructure and development.”
The Deputy Speaker disclosed that Ghana in 2014 passed an Infrastructure Investment Fund and before that in 2011 and 2004 put in place a policy on PPP and guidelines for harnessing private resources.
He noted that most African states are not able to raise sufficient funds to finance development projects leading to infrastructure gap and to fill that gap resort to debt financing resulting in fiscal deficits.
According to him, not many options have so far been explored to finance excess expenditure because debt financing has been readily available and easily accessible for countries.
“Besides this, we as a community have not been able to structurally transform our economies and create the needed jobs for our teeming unemployed youth.”
“Our situation is made worse by our inability to develop and grow trade within the community.”
He lamented that despite the efforts of ECOWAS in the past 40 years to increase interaction among its citizens, intra-regional trade among ECOWAS member states has been very low.
According to him, compared to inter-regional trade, intra-regional trade between ECOWAS member states is between 8 and 13 percent of the total ECOWAS trade adding, “Yet the cost of intra-regional trade between ECOWAS states is three times more than shipping to external regions because of poor infrastructure within the region.”
Hon. Osei-Owusu argued that providing infrastructure and efficient service delivery could help transform ECOWAS economies, improve member states competitively, facilitate domestic and international trade and enhance the continent’s integration into the global economy.
By Osumanu Al-Hassanemail@example.com