By Henrique Caine
The Ugandan Government recently put out a request for an Expression of Interest (EOI) to pre-qualify for bidding on construction of a major portion of the Kampala-Jinja highway (94 km/ 58 miles) linking Kampala to the trade corridor that connects to Rwanda, the DRC and to the port of Mombasa in Kenya. This is major because as we know, Uganda and Rwanda are land locked countries and roads are essential for trade.
The EOI is for a design, finance, build and road maintainance project proposal under a public, private partnership with the Government (PPP). The designs are likely to include revenue generating strategies such as toll booths, container scanning, weight bridges, etc. It also calls for proposals that ensure access to tourism sites, commercial facilities, and private and commercial properties to maintain their values and ensure safety of passengers and vehicles. The notice stipulates the need for all of these and foresees the obvious job growth that comes from infrastructure projects.
Essentially the Government is not borrowing a dime but instead treating its road as a natural resource that will generate revenues for years to come under a private sector driven solution. Although it is an international tender process, local sub-contractors are needed which will bring opportunities for smaller local construction companies. Several multi-national engineering and construction firms are expected to pursue the PPP deal, which is a 30 years management concession and after which, the project transfers back to the Government.
Let’s learn from the experiences of others and not be too quick to saddle our limited treasury with debt when there are so many ways to accomplish a goal. I am a big proponent of public private partnerships in infrastructure development such as this one and others like the Lekki Free Zone and Industrial Park underway in Nigeria.