The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Union Development Agency (NEPAD) in partnership with the Government of Zambia have successfully launched the Agriculture Puplic Private Partnership Platform with significant participation and ownership from the private sector during a multi-stakeholder meeting.
The high level round table meeting is a follow up to a technical meeting held in August this year under the auspices of the African Union (AU)’s 2003 Maputo Declaration and the 2014 Malabo Declaration on ‘Accelerated African Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods’ . This dialogue was organized with a view to contributing to the attainment of the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The main outcome of the meeting was a review of the PPP Guidelines designed to support African Union Member States in designing and implementing effective, sustainable and inclusive PPPs in the agricultural sector (Agri-PPPs).
“The role of the private sector in agricultural transformation is critical as shown by strong evidence that private sector investments will continue to be central to leveraging existing public sector efforts, particularly for the development of strategic agricultural value chains at national and regional levels”, highlighted FAO Zambia’s Programme Coordinator, Mtendere Mphatso on behalf of the Country Representative.
“Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are an important mechanism for attracting investment and technical expertise and have the potential to transform the agricultural sector and deliver multiple benefits that can contribute towards the pursuit of inclusive agricultural development,” Mphatso added.
Under its Seventh National Development Plan, Zambia’s vision is attainment of the desirable social economic indicators by the year 2030 without leaving anyone behind. The plan acknowledges agriculture as the key driver for economic development and diversification.
Speaking at the meeting, the Permenant Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculure, Mr. Songowayo Zyambo, highlighted that low investment by both government and private sectors was among the challenges limiting the full development of the agriculture sector. “The Government resource envelope is limited and competive to address all needs of the sector. In an effort to increase investment, government has identified the private sector as excellent partners in championing agriculture transformation”, Mr Zyambo said.
Following the enactment of the PPP Act in 2009, the Government of the Republic of Zambia, through its various Contracting Authorities consisting of Government and quasi Government institutions, commenced the PPP implementation process. However, the prevailing institutional set ups for PPPs is focused on infrastructure projects, which are characterised by a larger scale of capital investments, commercial risk and contractual arrangements which are different from most common types of Agri-PPPs.
”If well designed, PPPs have the potential to support increased and better targeted investments into the agricultural sector”, noted Stephanie Gallatova, FAO Agribusiness Officer.” However Agri-PPPs are characterized by a number of specificities that need to be considered in the design process, such as a wider spectrum of partners including smallholders, higher levels of risk, and difficulty in measuring targets and objectives, she added.”
The platform and the way forward
A local no-profit organisation, Musika, was elected as the Manager of the National Agri-PPP platform which is expected to be a network of organisations or individuals with interest in advancing PPPs along prioritised value chains in Zambia’s agriculture sector. Membership will be drawn from government ministries and agencies, private sector, technical and financial development partners, farmer organizations, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), research and the academia.
As the host of the platform, Musika will be responsible for planning and budgeting, convening, resource mobilization and providing other secretariat duties.
The technical team recommended that a legal specialist be engaged to finalize the formulation of the PPP guidelines due to the legal complexity of the PPP process in terms of procurement and implementation.
Once finalised, the guidelines will direct the design, implementation and impact of Agri-PPPs in Zambia. Additonally, the guidelines will provide assurance to private-sector partners at all levels (large-scale national/multinational firms, SMEs and farmers) that their investments will be protected and channelled towards agreed upon activities, and clearly stipulate the roles and responsibilities of all partners in implementing their Agri-PPP projects.