This article was released by Sidwaya (a local Newspaper) as of Friday, September 5th- 7th, 2008 in reaction to the above entitled article published by PARECAP, an NGO that has been striving to strengthen the partnership between public, private and civil society sectors in Burkina Faso since April 2007.
I am a citizen interested in the public life of my country. So, I read with great curiosity your article entitled “Public- Private Partnership (3P) to Public-Private-Civil Society Partnership (3P + CS)” that appeared in Le Pays no 4173 as of Friday, August 1th - 3th, 2008.
I guess no one questions, today, the need for a dynamic partnership between the public, private and civil society sectors in the pursuit of sustainable (harmonious) development in Burkina Faso. The Gordian knot, however, is as highlighted in your article how to form the basis of such a partnership. In other words, the question is how to work out the contents of such a “tripartite agreement”.
The right path may be to start by spelling out each actor’s role in the partnership. The public sector, I agree, should endeavour to set up an enabling environment for social and economic development through regulations and long- term investments. It is also true that the primary role of the private sector is to create wealth for current and future generations.
But I didn’t see very clearly what role civil society should play in the interface when you mentioned that “its work in social promotion and economic growth is outstanding”. If that is related to its involvement in the implementation of various development projects (these are activities it carries out as an independent entity), I think we should yearn for a stronger civil society in the interface.
Indeed, in addition to assisting the public and private sectors in the management of public affairs and creation of wealth, civil society should seek to reinforce its role in the institutional and systemic reforms of our country. It should act as an alert and control system over governmental action and private sector projects. More to the point, it should be the watchdog that ensures the public and private sectors keep up their commitments.
This enhanced role should be understood and accepted by all actors in the interface, for if it is necessary for the government to intervene in the private sector when it no longer produces expected economic outcomes, it is similarly important for civil society to intervene for the very same reason or when the government itself is facing any failure. In short, the role of civil society should be strengthened in the interface.
It would be a major asset for good governance in Burkina Faso, which is a prerequisite for sustainable development.
Moreover, I am afraid that your proposed thematic approach will not be effective to achieving concrete development outcomes although discussions between stakeholders are essential to put in place such an interface. The reason is that, in Burkina, we are always keen to deliver honeyed promises and exalted speeches without any follow up on our commitments.
That is why many discussion platforms are useless as reports are deemed to sink into oblivion very rapidly. In a reliable democratic governance system, I think that the public and private sectors should help civil society in building its capacities to evaluate public and non-government policies so as to strengthen its role in the interface.
I don’t think the three actors should meet regularly only because a discussion platform does exist. Instead, they should meet when it is necessary, that is, when one or two parties have concrete propositions to make to the other party. Finally, the interface may further develop itself through tightened collaboration in service delivery areas such as education, health, agriculture, and information and communication technology.
That’s my understanding of effective public-private-civil society partnership.
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