PPPs – long-term contractual collaborations between public and private entities– enable governments to receive support from a private partner to adopt an innovation immediately when it can be used to enhance a public service. This gives the State the immediate benefit of new technologies without having to make the significant investment required, since this expense is covered by the private partner. This is a big advantage in emerging countries.
The toll bridge built by Bouygues in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) is a good example of this. The bridge addresses a major traffic challenge, since it reduces the traveling time between two of the city’s major neighborhoods from 1 hour to 15 minutes. This makes Abidjan more accessible and helps reduce pollution. The PPP that was established enabled the country to finance a project of over $280m.
Sovereign documents, no exception to PPPs
Infrastructure is far from being the only application of PPPs. Although more recent, the same advantages apply to sovereign documents (identity cards, driving licenses, etc.) as in the infrastructure sector. PPPs give the countries in question access to the latest technologies in relation to identity documents, enabling them to more effectively combat fraud.
“The State is assisted by a major company, which brings the technology”, explains Guy Clec’h, vice-president, Citizen Access & Identity Africa at OT. “Concluding a contract with an international group guarantees access to the latest technologies, as well as training and support throughout the term of the contract.”
Security and economic development: long-term effects
Giving greater access to these innovations also has a wider influence on the country.
“For example, we signed a PPP with the government of Mali to provide a complete electronic passport solution responding to the latest international security standards. Having the latest-generation passports will make the country more able to tackle fraud and terrorism, more effectively control migration and protect its citizens”, continues Guy Clec’h.
Other benefits are economic, as in the case of the PPP awarded to OT to provide a solution for issuing vehicle registration documents and driving licenses in Burkina Faso.
“A number of vehicles enter the country with false papers (or no papers), without paying customs duties, and are sold without the State receiving taxes or being able to keep track of them. Rolling out these ultra-secure documents will end this fraud.”
Training and employment, a benefit for citizens
While the appeal for States is obvious, citizens can also benefit from these types of solution. For the Abidjan bridge, around 840 direct jobs were created during its construction.
“For our projects, only a few OT employees are posted to work on site. Other resources are recruited locally and trained by us. For the PPP in Mali, around 40 Malians were hired. We then provide State operators with training in the technologies supplied.”
Again, this means that technological progress does not only benefit the State – continuous training of operators ensures that they develop alongside the solution implemented.
“We do not touch citizens’ personal data, which belongs to the government. Government representatives are always responsible for personalizing identity documents with citizens’ information, after receiving training and equipment from us”, says Guy Clec’h.
OT, a legitimate partner for PPPs solutions
“Preparing a project is complex and requires cross-functional organization, bringing together technical as well as legal and financial skills”, concludes Guy Clec’h. “OT’s success in PPPs is due to the fact that the Group has all the technical expertise required to develop these projects, the willingness at the highest level of the company to provide this type of financing to offer the best possible support to emerging countries and, finally, the employees to implement these technologies.”
For PPPs involving the delegation of sovereign responsibilities to a trusted third party, the success of a PPP involving identity documents also requires work to inform citizens about the project.
Governments and citizens therefore have a growing interest in introducing increasingly secure sovereign documents via PPPs, drawing on international companies. As well as supporting countries’ development, these PPPs allow governments to retain their financial autonomy to make other investments benefiting the population (schools, healthcare, regional administration, etc.).