Original Research

The state of South Africa’s public–private partnership practices in transport projects: Problems and potential

Ofentse K. Sebitlo, Tatenda Mbara, Rose Luke
Journal of Transport and Supply Chain Management | Vol 16 | a733 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jtscm.v16i0.733 | © 2022 Ofentse K. Sebitlo, Tatenda Mbara, Rose Luke | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 January 2022 | Published: 06 December 2022

About the author(s)

Ofentse K. Sebitlo, Department of Transport and Supply Chain Management, School of Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Tatenda Mbara, Department of Transport and Supply Chain Management, School of Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Rose Luke, Department of Transport and Supply Chain Management, School of Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Despite growing calls for public–private partnerships (PPPs) to supplement diminishing investment in South Africa’s transport sector, the uptake of transport PPPs in the country was low over the past 15 years compared with Brazil, Russia, India and China which performed well in this regard. This low uptake poses several consequences in light of the positive correlation between transport capital investment and economic growth.

Objectives: The study aimed to describe the problems faced in the South African PPP process, firstly by comparing and contrasting PPP practices of South Africa to its counterparts in the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) multilateral forum in view of understanding the reasons for the low uptake of transport PPPs in the country and, secondly, by interviewing transport PPP experts on their opinions on constraints and possible solutions for PPPs in the country.

Method: In light of the limited research on transport PPPs in South Africa, as well as the low level of PPP implementation, secondary data analysis was followed by an exploratory qualitative research design used to obtain rich data from subject experts on the topic at hand.

Results: The main findings reveal that the politicisation of infrastructure through party politics, political risk and domination of the state in the delivery of strategic infrastructure contributes to the low uptake of PPPs.

Conclusion: A need exists to strengthen political commitment for PPPs by centralising and coordinating planning across different tiers of government, while easing the regulatory burden, making them simpler to implement and more attractive to investors and promoting inclusivity. Policymakers can utilise these findings to improve areas of practice requiring intervention.


Keywords

public–private partnership practices; transport sector; South Africa; BRICS; best practice

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