PPPs in energy infrastructure: regional experiences in light of the global energy crisis

This executive summary report by Eurodad is part of a joint publication coordinated by Bread for the World and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung (Washington DC Office) which includes regional reports from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, India, Indonesia, The Philippines and Peru. It presents the state of play of public-private partnerships in the energy sector and demonstrates why they are a risky business.

The world is going through a major energy emergency that has seen the price of basic rights, such as heating homes, soar to levels that many people simply cannot afford. A combination of factors, including the war in Ukraine, financial speculation in commodities by investors and profiteering by energy companies, have added to the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. While access to energy has always been an issue associated with emerging and developing countries, developed countries now face the unprecedented threat of unaffordable energy prices. However, even with the widening gulf of inequality in developed countries, it is apparent that developing countries are in a far worse situation. A major impact of the energy crisis is food insecurity. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations’ 2022 Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC 2022), in 2021 alone, around 193 million people in 53 countries experienced acute food insecurity.3 This figure is set to rise unless the drivers of food insecurity, including energy prices, are effectively regulated.

In response to this growing crisis, and with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in mind, specifically SDG-7, which aims to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”, the use of public-private partnerships (PPPs) for gas, wind, hydroelectric power, solar energy and coal projects has been the preferred model for the UN and other international financial institutions (IFIs). A recent example of energy PPP implementation is the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) 6th International PPP Forum. The forum reinstated its ongoing support for the global promotion of PPPs as a means for achieving sustainable infrastructure.

At the same time, the support, endorsement and promotion of PPPs by IFIs and other multilateral institutions has been consistently critiqued by civil society organisations (CSOs) for a lack of evidence on the grounds of cost effectiveness, efficiency and transparency, as well as extensive cases of human rights abuses.

Following an abundance of research and advocacy by CSOs and activists from around the world, this report provides a critical analysis of the role and operation of energy PPP projects, based on analyses of eight PPP energy case reports from countries of the Global South: Africa: Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe; Asia: India, Indonesia, The Philippines; Latin America: Peru.