Creating Public-Private-Military Partnerships to Fill Administrative and Financial Gaps in U.S. Infrastructure Reconstruction Projects in Afghanistan

By Jackson Celestin 

On March 11, 2016, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John F. Sopko released a report reviewing 45 Department of Defense (DOD) reconstruction projects in Afghanistan. Of the 45 projects, 28 did not meet structural contract requirements or technical specifications, 16 were structurally deficient to the point that they were considered unsafe for use, and 7 of the 15 completed projects had never been used. According to Sopko, the projects suffered from inadequate contractors, project management and oversight; and faulty building materials. To limit deficient projects, Sopko suggested the DOD improve its project planning and design procedures, hire contractors who are qualified and capable of complying with construction requirements, and conduct adequate oversight to guarantee that projects are built to protocol and contractors are held accountable

 Though Sopko’s recommendations are reasonable solutions, they ignore larger trends visible in the U.S.’ reconstruction budget in Afghanistan. Of the $114.92 billion the U.S. has spent since 2002 through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Fund, the DOD has dedicated $10.68 billion (9 percent) to Operations and Oversight and only $990 million (less than 1 percent) to the main infrastructure fund, the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund (AIF).

Between Sopko’s report and the allocation of U.S. reconstruction funds in Afghanistan, there appears to be an expertise, administration, and funding gap that is preventing the United States from establishing sustainable infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. In the field of international development, this is a common challenge, and more agencies are turning to public-private partnerships (PPPs) to address it. Inspired by PPPs in international development, this blog presents a new model that partners the public and private sectors with the military. This article will refer to this model as Public-Private-Military Partnerships (PPMPs). Though they may face challenges in attracting private investors, working with low starting budgets, and addressing anti-Western and anti-military perceptions, PPMPs can combine the groups’ comparative advantages to fill the knowledge and funding gap in the United States’ Afghanistan reconstruction projects. They can also further connect the military to global development for better military assistance in conflict areas and help conflict and post-conflict areas to pursue global development and sustainability goals.

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This graph is an original creation of the author, Jackson Celestin, based on data from the July 30, 2016 SIGAR Quarterly Report to Congress.

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Challenges for a Public Private Partnership in Pakistani Healthcare

By Motoki Aoki

Pakistan’s Punjab Province, home to more than 101 million people, has the potential to become one of the world’s largest economies in the twenty-first century. However, a strong economy requires a healthy populace. Despite robust economic growth over the last decade, the Punjab government allocates as low as 0.7 percent of its spending to healthcare, compared to the OECD average of 8.9 percent. Infant mortality in Punjab is 77 deaths per 1,000 live births, and mortality for children under five is 112 in 1,000, compared to the OECD averages of 2.9 and 4.2 respectively. Although Punjab has made a gradual progress on these two health indicators in the last decade, both are still short of the MDG targets of 52 deaths per 1,000 live births for under-five mortality, and 40 deaths per 1,000 live births for infant mortality.

The major issues in Punjab’s health services run the gamut from financial mismanagement to insufficient resources to absenteeism of doctors and other staff. In light of its failure to achieve MDG targets, the government of Punjab announced in June that it will outsource day-to-day operations and management of all public health facilities in 10 districts to private parties starting in November 2015. These locations span from the smallest healthcare facilities to district hospitals, totaling 669 health facilities. The government will continue to own the physical facilities and remain accountable for overseeing the quality of healthcare delivered. Continue reading

Google Investment Could Drive Down Cost of Wind Energy for Africans and Americans

By Ariel Gandolfo

Earlier this month, CNBC reported that Google is in negotiations to invest in Africa’s largest wind power project, which is set to break ground this Thursday. Located in Kenya, the $700 million Lake Turkana wind farm represents the largest single private investment in Kenya’s history. The expected 310 megawatt output could increase national energy capacity by 20 percent, filling a crucial gap in a country where more than 75 percent of the population lacks electricity, even after the government spends over one hundred million dollars per year on fuel imports.

The investment clearly makes sense for the forward-thinking tech giant, because more Kenyans with electricity means more people able to use Google products; the company’s strategy dovetails philanthropy with its core business interests by enlarging its long-term customer base. While Google has concentrated its renewable energy technology investments in California and the American Southwest, it also invested $12 million in the solar Jasper Power Project in South Africa in 2013, and the Turkana wind farm could be its second large-scale investment in African energy infrastructure.

The wind array will be constructed on the eastern shore of Lake Turkana, pictured here.

The wind array will be constructed on the eastern shore of Lake Turkana, pictured here.

Clean energy investments are a cornerstone of American foreign policy on the African continent, and the Obama administration has leveraged billions of dollars from the private sector and philanthropic foundations to scale up investments in clean energy innovation. President Obama’s flagship Power Africa initiative, housed in USAID, is the most notable for international development. By collaborating with African governments and private companies, Power Africa aims to add 30,000 megawatts of clean electricity generation and provide electricity to 60 million new homes and businesses. Continue reading

Future of Technology in Africa: Private-sector led ICT Integration

By Motoki Aoki

On June 3, German software giant Systems Applications Products (SAP) announced “Digital Africa,” a partnership with the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) that seeks to support the development of Africa’s digital potential. This program—one of SAP’s $500 million investment initiatives—will train 20,000 children in 11 African countries, underscoring growing recognition of the role of Information, Communications Technology (ICT) in driving broader development in Africa. The new partnership comes in recognition of the significant opportunity ICT driven initiatives present in Africa, both in terms of development impact and profit potential.  Here’s a review of that opportunity, and the trends that are driving it.

Access to mobile ICT technology has the potential to transform African economies.

Access to mobile ICT technology has the potential to transform African economies.

Diversified economy for Africa‘s high demographic dividend

Surprisingly, by 2035, the number of Africans joining the working age population (ages 15-64) will exceed that from the rest of the world combined. With the right conditions for sustainable job creation, Africa will enjoy a rapid-growing demographic dividend. Indeed, many Africans are migrating from rural to urban areas to search for better opportunities. This massive urban migration can be transformed into a positive, but in the short term it will stretch already limited public resources. Continue reading