the country’s economic diversification initiatives. The development of a township was also viewed as a strategy for local economic empowerment.
According to Pino (2012) , financing of land servicing activities were made possible through a partnership with the Botswana Development Corporation - a state owned company―in 1989. Phase 1 of land servicing activities started in 1989 and were completed in 1991 at a cost of P18 million. Most of the plots serviced under Phase 1 were sold to prospective home owners although a few were sold to the Botswana Housing Corporation while some were developed by the Botswana Development Corporation. Phakalane Estate which is a private entity did not build houses for sale or rental although they constructed hotels, warehouses and commercial buildings.
Phakalane Estate encountered strong resistance when it tried to handover secondary and tertiary infrastructure services to the local authority―Gaborone City Council (GCC)―and respective utility parastatal companies―notably Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), and Water Utilities Corporation (WUC). First, GCC was reluctant to take over roads, street lighting, storm water and refuse collection, because it had not budgeted for them. Second, both BPC and WUC argued that connections to Phakalane Estate developments would increase pressure on existing infrastructure. They wanted Phakalane Estate, as the developer, to pay for the necessary improvements on the infrastructure. Third, WUC was not satisfied with the quality of infrastructure services being offloaded to them. According to Moeti (2012) and Gaotlhobogwe (2011) WUC demanded to be paid P30 million (USD 3.75 million as of 2012) being the cost of upgrading water supply and sewer systems while BPC demanded P22 million (USD 2.75) for upgrading its power supply substation.
Projects undertaken under the state-led PPP banner have contributed largely in construction of secondary infrastructure networks (access roads, water supply, drainage and storm water systems) and supply of houses. Their contribution has reduced housing shortages and saved public funds. The Government has made substantial financial savings with regard to provision of infrastructure services. As observed by Pino (2012) Phakalane Estate project has also generated numerous benefits. The most outstanding contribution made by private sector led PPP projects (such as Phakalane Estate) is the release of private (freehold) land for public use at no cost to the state or government. This is contrary to earlier practices where the government was forced to purchase freehold farms to facilitate expansion of cities and towns. The release of agricultural freehold land for housing, industrial, commercial and community facilities has reduced pressure on Gaborone City Council and filled the gap that the government could not. Secondly, the project has enabled the government to save money that it would spent on acquiring land and providing infrastructure facilities such as roads, water, electricity and storm water drainage. Third, the development of Phakalane Estate has contributed to government revenues―directly through property taxes and indirectly through the promotion of tourism, hotel and hospitality industries. Fourth, the growth of Phakalane Estate has created numerous construction, management, administrative and professional jobs at various stages of its evolution. Fifth, the township has had tremendous multiplier effects on local and national economies.
The adoption and application of the Public-Private Partnership concept in Botswana has been by default rather than by design. The launching of projects now classified under the PPP banner appear to have been driven by economic diversification and privatisation policies rather than the need to share risks and/or achieve efficiency. There were neither clearly defined responsibilities, expectations nor agreements on how to obtain finance, supply land, provide infrastructure networks, construct community, operate and maintain PPP projects. Worse still, local authorities and utility companies were neither consulted nor engaged in the design and implementation. This challenge was most prominent in private sector led projects. Consequently, local authorities and utility firms were not ready to takeover roads, street lights, refuse collection and other services developed under the banner of public private partnership because they didn’t plan, budget nor prepare for them.
The projects were implemented without written agreements or legally binding instruments. Consequently, private partners pursued processes that would maximise their revenues and profits. All projects benefitted the elite, rich and, at most, middle income earners. The poor and other vulnerable groups were left out. Even schemes targeting the poor ended benefiting middle and high income earners. The poor have, as a result, been forced to find accommodation in peri-urban villages or reside in heavily congested but inadequately serviced self-help housing areas (Kalabamu & Morolong, 2004) .
The latest policy titled Strategy on Private Sector Participation in Land Servicing is also deeply flawed. It lays strong emphasis on government acquiring land either through willing-seller-willing-buyer arrangements or through compulsory acquisition. The undertaking whereby the government acquires land at market prices, provides peripheral infrastructure services and then resells it to private sector partners is an uncalled for bureaucratic process. The process is also liable to abuse and corruption. The proposed position of Accounting Officer/team consisting of representatives from over a dozen ministries, departments, utility providers and local authorities will introduce another layer in the land and housing delivery process.
7. Conclusion and Way Forward
Public Private Partnerships are a tool for reducing risks and operational costs as well as promoting efficiency and timely delivery of goods and services. The current practice is however not delivering all the potential benefits. To benefit from untapped opportunities inherent in public private partnership arrangements in land servicing, we recommend the following measures:
1) All public-private partnership projects should be guided by contracts, specific agreements or memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the government or the relevant state agency and the private firm. The contract should contain binding clauses on duties and responsibilities of all participating partners and delivery timelines.
2) The governments should give resources to equip agencies established to co-ordinate PPPs in the country so that the respective agencies are able to promote and support local authorities and state service departments to partner with the private sector instead of hiring or simply using them as consultants.
3) Negotiations on duties and responsibilities for each project should be inclusive of all potential partners―local authority, affected communities, service providers, land owners and so on. Participation of interested partners should start as early as the conception and design stages.
4) Freehold land owners and/or communal land rights holders should be facilitated to service their land for urban development in partnership with the private sector. The government should provide logistical support and funds for land servicing instead of the current double costs of purchasing and servicing the land. Participating partners should also agree on the value of land to be serviced, estimated costs, functions and duties to be undertaken by each party and how serviced plots or revenues from plot sales are to be shared.
The Government of Botswana has moved away from being the sole player in land servicing and housing supply in urban areas to being a facilitator and enabler. While the Government acknowledges the role of the private sector in land supply and servicing, it has not fully embraced the concept of public-private partnership. The Government wants to supply the land, provide bulk and primary services and then partner with the private sector at the tail end of entire process. This major-minor partnership makes the Government the dominant player but denies it the full benefits of public private sector partnership. In addition, the Government has not adequately supported private sector initiatives in land servicing. Going forward, the Government needs to adopt a bottom-up approach by facilitating and supporting public-private partnerships between land owners and local authorities. Consultations for partnerships should start at grassroots level and involve all stakeholders’ right from the conception to the implementation and transfer stages.
1In Botswana, a village or rural settlement is granted “urban” status when its population exceeds 5000 and 75% of its workforce is engaged in non-agricultural activities.
2Botswana has three land tenure categories: state land where land is owned and administered by the government; tribal land where land is communally owned but administered by respective land boards; and freehold land which is private property (Dickson, 1990; Kalabamu, 2000) .
3Excludes land allocated for construction of flats.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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