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A critical analysis of water PPP failures in sub-Saharan Africa

Salman Tariq (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Xueqing Zhang (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Kowloon, Hong Kong)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 14 July 2021

Issue publication date: 16 August 2022

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Abstract

Purpose

Top-down pressure from donors, public sector inefficiencies and fund deficits have steered the introduction of public–private partnerships (PPPs) in sub-Saharan Africa. However, PPP activities in the water sector have been quite insignificant compared to other infrastructure sectors in this region. In addition, a number of water PPPs have encountered great difficulties and subsequent failures. This study aims at unveiling the underlying reasons behind failures.

Design/methodology/approach

This study has classified the failure types of water PPPs and reviewed the development of water PPPs in sub-Saharan Africa to identify failed ones. Eight failed case studies are completed through the rigorous approach of event sequence mapping.

Findings

Nine root causes of water PPP failure are identified through a thorough examination of these failed water PPP cases and the interrelationships between these failure causes are established. The failure causes are further generalized through literature focusing on water PPP failures in developing countries and problematic issues that hinder the implementation of successful water PPPs across different Sub-Saharan African countries. Recommendations are provided for future improvements in carrying out water PPPs in Sub-Saharan Africa by learning past lessons and drawing experiences.

Originality/value

This is the first case study on water PPP failures in Sub-Saharan Africa from a construction management perspective. This study will help governments and the private sector in developing stronger future water PPPs.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study is financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project Number: 71472052). The authors would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments.

Citation

Tariq, S. and Zhang, X. (2022), "A critical analysis of water PPP failures in sub-Saharan Africa", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 29 No. 8, pp. 3157-3180. https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-01-2021-0084

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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