Getting the private sector into the driver's seat
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CTA. 1998. Getting the private sector into the driver's seat. Spore 77. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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The development of the transport sector is part of the overall development strategies of the ACP States. For most, if not all, the rapid expansion of access routes depends on the right institutional and financial facilities being in place, so that...
The development of the transport sector is part of the overall development strategies of the ACP States. For most, if not all, the rapid expansion of access routes depends on the right institutional and financial facilities being in place, so that the operation of transport systems can be gradually privatised, and users can become involved in managing their maintenance. Massive reforms Airports, roads and ports are all up for privatisation in many countries. Their return to the private sector is taking the form of operational concessions, co-management and leasing. So far, the three different approaches have been used in 32 ACP countries, mainly in Africa, over the last seven years. The principle of user participation in such reforms, and in improving the management of road networks, is now generally accepted. Some African countries, including Benin, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, have set up (or re-activated) Roads Committees and Roads Funds. Road users thus finance road maintenance through taxes on petrol, road tolls and road licence fees, and can participate in developing strategies ensuring that road development meets their needs. One of the first toll roads in sub-Saharan Africa to be managed by a private company is between Hillacondji and Cotonou, part of the road that links the Togo border to the old Nigerian capital, Lagos, crossing the entirety of Benin. Such institutional reforms are bearing fruit in some countries. In Zambia, for example, virtually the entire road network has been tarmacked. Similar trends are on track with railroads, with the concessionary approach being used as far as Southern Africa. The operation of some railway lines has been handed to private companies, without ownership changing hands: Malawi was the first to adopt this strategy, and published its call for tenders on the Internet! In West Africa, the operation of the railway between Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) is in the hands of a private company, Sitarail. On average each month, it runs 108 goods trains, on a daily basis, on this two-way route. In 1996, it moved 480 000 tonnes of merchandise. Abdel Aziz Thiam, director of Sitarail: 'We are seeing an upward trend in volume of cotton, fruit, dry vegetables and, in particular, poultry and livestock, for all of which Côte d'Ivoire is still heavily dependent on Sahelian countries.' The gradual transfer to the private sector of management tasks for the running and maintenance of transport networks has many advantages, according to the World Bank. They include improved productivity and quality in service, lower costs for users, and reduced deficits for public bodies. These are the first benefits of many which ? according to current thinking - privatisation holds in store for the African transport sector. For more information: ISTED, Institut des sciences et des techniques de l'équipement et de l'environnement pour le développement, La Grande Arche Paroi Sud 92055, Paris, La Défense cedex 4, France. The Courier ACP-EU No. 169, May ? June 1998, European Commission, 200, rue de la Loi 1049, Brussels, Belgium. International Forum for Rural Transport and Development, New Premier House, 150 Southampton Row, 2nd floor, London, WC1B 5AL, England.
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