The build-operate-transfer port projects have seen a high failure rate, including Aqaba New Port in Jordan.
The build-operate-transfer port projects have seen a high failure rate, including Aqaba New Port in Jordan.

Investment Risks Blocking Projects in Middle East

About 49% of all PPP projects in the MENA region since 1996 had reached financial close while 23% failed to reach financial close

Investment Risks Blocking Projects in Middle East

Nearly one in four public private partnership projects launched in the Middle East and North Africa region have not been implemented, according to a report.
The primary reason for PPP deals not getting off the ground was the MENA governments’ failure to offer deals that were attractive to investors because they carried too much investment risk, either from lack of details in the project scope, or inadequate guarantees over revenues, stated the research by Middle East business intelligence service Meed, TradeArabia reported.
Its latest report on the region’s PPP market shows that 23% of the 80 such projects brought to market in the MENA region since 1996 have failed to conclude in a deal.
The findings come as governments across the region are turning to PPP contracts to deliver key projects in order to reduce spending in response to lower oil earnings.
In preparing its latest research report, PPP in the Middle East, Meed analyzed more than 100 projects across the region including 80 PPP projects that have reached the prequalification stage in the region since 1996.
The results showed that about 49% of all PPP projects brought to the market in the MENA region since 1996 had reached financial close while 23% failed to reach financial close.
The remainder of the deals, about 28%, remain at different stages of development, ranging from seeking expressions of interest from  prospective developers, to having signed the PPP contract but still working towards a financial close, said the report.

  Poor Deal Structuring
Meed’s analysis of the PPP market highlights the importance of carefully selecting projects, and carrying out proper feasibility and financial studies before projects are brought to market.
The most common reason given for the failure of PPP deal to be concluded in the region was poor deal structuring, where investors feel that they have been asked to accept structures that require them to accept high levels of risk while expected revenues are unclear, it stated.
As a result of poorly defined deal structures, investors are forced to increase their contract bid prices in order to mitigate exposure to potential and unforeseen risk.  As a consequence, the overall cost of the project rises, making it economically unviable, revealed the report.
Citing the case of Egypt’s Wastewater Treatment Plant PPP, Meed said it was launched by Cairo in 2009, but was abandoned three years later after studies showed higher-than-expected levels of industrial wastewater was required to be treated.
This necessitated more advanced pre-treatment technology than had been anticipated, making the project very expensive, it stated.
Although PPP has become an established method for delivering government projects around the world, it has had a relatively low level of uptake in the Middle East region, remarked Meed in its report.    

  Complex and Expensive
Critics meanwhile say that PPP projects cost the government more over their lifetime than they would under traditional procurement models.    
Additionally, PPP deals are notoriously complex and expensive to agree as the investors seek as much certainty as possible on what they are required to provide and what revenues they will earn, while the government wants to ensure that it is getting the best possible service over the lifetime of the deal, said the report.
Land transport has the highest failure rate across the sectors, as projects such as the Saudi Landbridge and the Mafraq-Gweifat International Highway in Abu Dhabi proved too expensive to undertake using PPP.
Successful logistics projects bring the land transport success rate to 14% so far, with 43% still in the pipeline, it added.
According to Meed, the build-operate-transfer port projects have seen a high failure rate, including Aqaba New Port in Jordan and the Tanger port complex in Morocco. But Port concessions without construction work, especially at Tanger-Med Port, have been much more successful.

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