Moving with the times
COMMENT: Slowly but surely, port agencies in Africa are becoming more sophisticated about how they offer port properties – container terminals, multipurpose terminals and so on – for a public-private partnership (PPP), writes Mike Mundy.
Traditionally, it was all about the financial offer and little else. But nowadays more Requests for Proposals are appearing that rely on multi-criteria analysis whereby points are awarded for technical aspects as well as for the financial offer. The winning bid is basically the bid which gets the most points based on the combination of these two elements.
The wider take-up of this approach in Africa is refreshing and follows worldwide best practice.
It is not infallible, however, and generally in Africa there are still a lot of things that can go wrong with the port privatisation process. Take three recent examples:
- The tender for the new container terminal at the Port of Mombasa was cancelled simultaneous with senior managers of the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) being fired. The implication was that the fired managers had deployed corrupt practices in conjunction with the bid process and hence ultimately the KPA Board had no alternative but to cancel it. This was actually a multi-criteria bid process but it still derailed in the face of mismanagement.
- The Ghana Ports & Harbour Authority (GPH&A) recently awarded the multipurpose concession for the port of Takoradi to local engineering and construction firm Ibistek which is understood to have personnel which include former GP&HA employees. There are suspicions as to whether the process was sound and reservations have similarly been expressed about this company’s ability to deliver the $370m project effectively.
- A more blatant example is the one highlighted in recent media reports of the allegation from Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz that the port and logistics operator Bollore tried to bribe him in order for him to give Bollore the concession for the port of Nouakchott.
Nevertheless, these sort of problems aside, the increased take-up, albeit relatively small as yet, of bid structures that drill down deeper into the qualifications and suitability of candidates for a specific project can only be beneficial. Such processes, properly managed, will basically play a strong part in eliminating the potential for the manipulation of results.
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