Sunday, 3 January 2016


I like to liken public-private sectorpartnership to marriage. The man (government/public sector) is the head. No matter how rich the woman (private sector) is, she still has to submit to the head.

As the head of the family, any decision taken by the man will directly affect the woman. Restrictions such as the type of friends the woman will have (partners; local and international), what the woman can buy (trade restrictions) and the amount of contributions the woman must make towards the running of the family (tax) will determine how successful the woman will become (successful entrepreneurs) and in extension, the amount of children she will have or be willing to have (employment creation).

Every business is created for the sole purpose of making profit and when this goal appears threatened by a policy with no close alternative, there will always be a protest in one way or the other.

In playing fatherly role, government should not make policies that will drop down the throat of private sectors like a crusted garri, rather, they should be presented with choice with the odds favouring the direction the government wishes it to go. For example, instead of just banning the importation, manufacture and sell of generating sets as alternative to erratic power supply (especially in sub-Saharan Africa where power is a major issue), government could decide to increase the tax on such products and decrease that of the clean energy alternative which the government seek to promote.

Like a submissive wife, what will follow is a gradual but steady phasing out of the former because it would become expensive to run and less profitable (an abrasion to business ideology’s lower cost and increase profit). Who says the same technique cannot be applied to every other part of the economy to encourage the private sector to embrace more eco-friendly means of doing business?

The global fall in oil price can be a blessing in disguise. Governments globally can decide to pull out from subsidizing oil for her citizens and channel it to subsidizing public transports so that it becomes very expensive to drive a private car. This will get many cars off the road (which are CO2 emitters) and create employment for the populace (as public transport drivers).

Having it at the back of mind that a great economy is driven by the private sector, it is pertinent for government policies to reach the private sector as friendly out-stretched arm. The pursuit of a sustainable economy may be a slow climb but definitely not a hopeless case. What if wood and paper industries are mandated to grow all the timber they use? What if there is a contest that rewards the fisherman with the largest pond? What if the cost of obtaining raw plastic/rubber becomes too high that it becomes cheaper to pay people to return used plastics? All these points to one direction; make businesses think sustainability right?

Part of the friction in public-private agreement is information gap. When the private sector is involved in government decision making process, they will have a better understanding to WHY it is necessary to do things differently (government too will understand the challenges and fears of these sectors and together they sit to proffer ways to make the transition hassle-free) and there is a better chance that businesses will want to be a part of the process rather than against it. 

This is my contribution to 2016 Masdar Engage Blogging Contest