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“PPPs, the road to the SDGs?”, a book for the PPP practitioners

06 Sep 20
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I have written “PPPs , the road to the SDGs?”  to fill a gap in the existing PPP literature. On the one hand, quite a few theoretical or academic books on PPPs are available. They provide a general view on the purpose and the mechanics that drive PPPs and as such represent a must-read for all those that are looking for a general introduction to PPPs.  On the other hand, a wealth of articles and case studies describe successes (more often than failures) of PPP projects.

What is largely missing is how you go from the principles of PPPs to the completed project. In other words, what are the challenges and difficulties that the PPP practitioner has to cope with and should overcome to succeed? As we all know, PPPs are complicated, and if there existed somewhere a cemetery of the good PPP ideas that never came to fruition, this place would be more crowded that the world of the living projects. Considering the difficulties of PPPs, the places where PPP practitioners can share experience and gain real life useful advice are surprisingly few. This is by the way the background that led to the creation of the World Association of PPP Units and PPP practitioners (WAPPP); another avenue for a developing country PPP Unit is to take advantage of technical assistance projects or capacity building plans which are mostly funded by donors. The limitation to these programs is that they take time to get implemented and their schedule does not necessarily coincide with the immediate issues a PPP Unit is faced with. The end result of all these is that it is difficult for a PPP unit officer or a policy-maker to get immediate responses to very concrete issues arising from the will to undertake the design and rolling-out of a PPP program.

“PPPs, the road to the SDGs?” is an attempt to fill this gap. I have tried in this book to put on paper my experience as a PPP adviser to PPP units that extends over several continents and many years.  By nature, this is not a handbook with a systematic approach; it is also not a collection of case studies. It is rather largely based in a pragmatic way on collected essays and reports that were written at the request of clients and beneficiaries to address their immediate needs. It contains general considerations and contributions, sector issues as well as practical description of a range of tools that are central to the everyday life of a PPP unit. This variety of contributions can be of interest not only to PPP units management and staff, but also to public officials, and more broadly to a wider audience interested in PPPs, such as corporations willing to better understand the reasoning behind the PPP units decisions, NGOs that need to assess PPP projects, journalists and the general public. To my knowledge this type of insider material is practically never made public.

Geoffrey Hamilton , head of PPP program at UNECE,  said in his foreword to the book that “I sincerely  hope this work […] will help its readers  to implement more and better PPP projects that will serve the interests of those most at needs.”  Somewhat similarly, Ziad Hayek, President of WAPPP, asserts that “I am convinced that this book will add a significant contribution to our shared efforts in promoting and developing successful PPPs”.

The paradox is that the countries that most require PPPs in view of  their infrastructure deficit and scarcity of public capital, are also the countries  where the challenges to successful PPPs are the most difficult to overcome. The international community should scale up its effort, not necessarily with more money but with more experience sharing, practical capacity building and mutual support. The book is intended to support these efforts with a true and honest approach that manages expectations and provides guidance all along the way of the project cycle.

Book available at


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