Roads have the potential to be a significant asset to any country—both in terms of the physical investment and the social and economic benefits. A well-maintained and managed road network unlocks the region’s productive capacity by linking agricultural areas to national or regional markets, and encourages economic growth and social integration by bringing cities and villages closer together. With this in mind, governments are eager to develop and manage their road networks to meet their economic, political and social needs. In some jurisdictions this means building brand new roads, while in others it requires refurbishing, widening and extending existing road networks.
While the public sector is ultimately responsible for roads, the private sector has a potential role to play in the project lifecycle, whether it be in road construction, operation, financing or maintenance. Partnerships between the public and private sector in roads are by no means a new phenomenon and, when done right in the appropriate circumstances, can improve project quality and increase efficiencies.
The nature of road public-private partnerships (PPPs) varies considerably from project to project and is driven by the local, national and even international factors that make the project a necessity in the first place. Historically, the most common road PPPs have been brownfield concessions. However, since 2000 greenfield projects have become increasingly more popular.