By Oboh Agbonkhese
Rights groups, labour unions, activists and community leaders have urged African governments to reject anti-people models of intervention in water and other sectors, as marketed by the World Bank; International Monetary Fund, IMF; International Finance Capital, IFC, and corporate powers under the privatisation umbrella.
Noting that privatisation under any guise, including public-private-partnership, PPP, is not the solution to the poor performance of the public sector, they said civil society, unions, students and grassroots groups need to build strong synergies to halt the advance of privatisation sweeping across the African continent.
These were conclusions reached after a two-day workshop on Public Private Partnerships Versus Public Sector Solutions, organised by Public Services International, PSI; Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, and the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service, Technical and Recreational Services Employees, AUPCTRE, in Lagos.
Asked why no Federal, state or local government official was present, Akinbode Oluwafemi, Deputy Director of ERA/FoEN, said: “We are at the stage of campaign, but will involve government at the engagement stage.”
In his welcome remarks at the event that drew participants from Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria, National President of AUPCTRE, Mr. Benjamin Anthony, noted that “many African countries were planning to privatise in the erroneous belief that the public sector is ineffective and inefficient.”
The keynote address on Campaign Against Privati-sation of Public Services: 2030 Agenda and Current Global Policy Issues, was delivered by PSI Head of Campaigns, Sandra Vermuyten, representing Rosa Pavanelli, PSI General-Secretary.
In a communiqué signed by Philip Jakpor, Head, Media & Campaigns, ERA/FoEN, it was noted, among others, that water privatisation in Lagos will open the doors for privatisation of water across the West African sub-region;
Twenty years of World Bank promotion of PPPs and other models of privatisation have not yielded the much-touted success, but instead left African countries with huge debts, infrastructural depletion and outright abdication of governmental responsibilities in terms of providing public services for their citizens.
It was also established that land grabs by multinational corporations across Africa, including freshwater sources, represents a new attack on common natural resources; the Freedom of Information Act, FoIA, be explored and used as a tool to demand information on existing PPP projects;
The media is needed in promotion of success stories in the fight against PPP in the water and other sectors across Africa to boost the morale of agitators for change; and the promotion of further research in other countries on the African continent on the poor performance of PPPs as has been documented in Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and elsewhere.
Other participating groups at the workshop include Corporate Accountability; Peace and Development Project, PEDEP; Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection, CEE-Hope; Centre for Dignity; African Women Water Sanitation and Hygiene Network, AWWASHNET; Child Health Organisation; Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre; Centre for Energy and Environmental Sustainability; Earthcare Foundation; Women Advancement Centre, and Journalist Initiative for Sustainable Environment, JISE.
With Mr. Jaye Gaskia and Mr. Francis Abayomi moderating on the first and second day, respectively, speakers include S. O. Z. Ejiofor, State Capture, PPP and the Role of Labour-Comrade; Akinbode Oluwafemi, Water Privatisation: The Case of Our Water, Our Right; Joe Ajaero, Energy Privatisation in Nigeria: Lesson Learned; Peters Adeyemi, PPP in Education Sector; Tunde Akanni, Engaging the Media in a Successful Anti-Privatisation Campaign, among others.