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World Bank, Washington, DC
Africa | Sub-Saharan Africa
2017-09-12T17:11:52Z | 2017-09-12T17:11:52Z | 2017-06

The decision, by a national government or a port authority, to contract out the development and operation of a container terminal facility to a qualified private operator sets in motion a process involving relationships with quite a different set of players compared to traditional port operations and management. It also most often requires a change in the function of the port authority, either from service provider to regulator, or from licensing authority to long-term contract manager, or a mix of both. Whatever the specific local conditions in play, this means a clear evolution in the respective roles of the public and private players having to work together to deliver the services expected by the clients of the port and the national economy at large. Effectively dealing with experienced private container terminal operators requires public counterparts, port authorities and government administrations, to master the legal and institutional skills necessary to reach balanced and profitable arrangements for their countries. Even when the required legal framework has been thoroughly established, existing institutions may find it hard to adjust to dealing with partners whose short-term objectives may not at first sight coincide systematically with the long-term policy goals of public authorities. However, past and current experience does show that both can be preserved, provided both sides have the tools and skills needed to reach an effective contractual agreement. Not surprisingly, as this is the nature of the markets they have been operating in, private operators will bring to the negotiation table very strong legal competencies and experienced negotiating skills. Since these skills were not so much required to deliver their usual mandate so far, many port authorities may lack at the outset a comparable capacity. While on-the-job training will definitely be part of the learning process, specialized assistance by transaction management professionals is often warranted. The Guidelines will identify key areas that typically may need support to ensure a successful outcome.

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