Governments were unprepared for COVID-19, as, by nature, they are mired in reactive decision making, procurement and contract management bureaucratic red tape that is not conducive to proactive recovery strategies.
However, Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects cannot be allowed to fail – hence the need for proactive actions, as governments ramp up their efforts to mobilise resources to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on PPP projects. They will need to cumulatively leverage the resources of the private sector to augment recovery efforts – and this will require innovation and voluntary collaboration
Stronger innovative partnerships between the public and private sectors will be needed to ensure existing PPP projects survive, as project survival is the only option. With decreased economic activity, PPP projects are going to experience considerable revenue challenges in the coming weeks, months, and (possibly) years.
Even PPP contracts where revenue is assured by public sector availability payments might suffer as governments face contracting economic activity that will result in declining tax revenues and less treasury and budget resources to honour their commitment to availability payments.
Additionally, the day-to-day operations and management of PPP projects will continue to be impacted if SPV (PPP project companies) employees are quarantined and become incapacitated. Time is of the essence.
These health issues, publications and campaigns highlight the World Health Organization’s (WHO) broad focus on global public health, as well as acknowledging the various factors that must be considered in the fight against COVID-19.
Surviving the unexpected
There are multiple moving parts that in healthcare that must be addressed immediately to improve resilience and sustainability. They include strained supply chains (protective clothing, medical instruments, pharmaceutical etc), improved and expanded facilities (labs, hospitals, emergency vehicles, etc,) and healthcare practitioners/service providers (doctors, nurses, clinicians, support staff, etc) to name a few.
Current events have proven that healthcare systems in most countries are not resilient to pandemic shocks due to poor integration.
What is critically needed are partnerships between the public and private sectors that address short, medium- and long-term challenges
We most certainly need to identify long-term corrective strategies that will address future COVID-19 type virus pandemics that many epidemiologists believe could become increasingly common. Due to long-term PPP contracts (of 20 or more years), we should explore building a PPP healthcare ecosystem
Examples of research PPP projects for COVID-19: USA
The US government, academia and industry struck a PPP called the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, to allow researchers tackling COVID-19 to access to high performance computing resources.
Researchers can submit proposals to gain access to high-end computing resources. Members of the consortium include IBM, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and the Department of Energy’s national labs, which host some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. The consortium represents 16 systems accounting for more than 330 petaflops, 775,000 CPU cores, and 34,000 GPUs.
Problem: “We are building an airplane while flying it ”
Dr Ahmed Al Kalawy is a legal and PPP expert, and the Managing Partner of Kalawy and Partners.