The Association of Geospatial Industries (AGI) India and the World Geospatial Industry Council (WGIC) have come together to jointly organize a workshop on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) at GeoSmart India 202 on 8th December 2021, at Hyderabad, India. This workshop brought the concept of PPP business models before the Indian geospatial leaders from the Public and Private sectors.
This workshop took with AGI India took cues from the WGIC report published in 2021 titled “Public-Private Geospatial Collaborations: Exploring Potential Partnership Models.” In the current context, AGI and WGIC recognized that the business models based on PPPs are new to the Indian geospatial community. The market and policies need to reach a certain level of maturity to uptake PPPs. The workshop aimed to provide the necessary context and knowledge on PPPs to the participants and create a discussion around the need for evolving related policies, processes, and consensus that will favor the uptake of PPPs.
PPPs in the Indian context
As per the preliminary analysis by AGI India, India has been one of the leading countries in implementing Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) models in projects related to infrastructure development, utilities, and telecommunications since the early 1990s.
Further, AGI India found that the mainstream IT sector has explored PPP models for various purposes, from providing digital infrastructure to running MOOC courses, and providing IT services and management systems while earning revenues per transaction over a long-term period. These were primarily Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) models. However, AGI India, as part of their preliminary surveys and one-to-one interviews, did not find examples of PPP case studies from the Geospatial sector in India.
PPPs Workshop India provides the context of geospatial PPPs
Agendra Kumar, President, AGI India, welcomed all the participants to the workshop and emphasized that the time is right for us in the Indian geospatial ecosystem to explore PPP as a business model.
Sanjay Kumar, Founder of WGIC and Executive Board Member, provided the context to the definition of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and spoke about the value of PPPs in the Indian context. He emphasized that geospatial information acts as the foundation for the most advanced data ecosystems driving global economies and enabling optimum utilization of every resource. Therefore, the need for PPPs in the Geospatial sector is clear and unanimous.
A Clear Definition of Public-Private Partnerships
Sanjay Kumar, talking with the audience, alluded the audience by providing a context for discussion on PPPs, and provided clarifications on what entitles a PPP:
- Greater clarity is needed on what PPP stands for and how it is not the same as project outsourcing and tendering.
- Often a long-term contract between two or more Government and private parties for providing a public asset or service, PPPs involve commercial capital financing government projects.
- The private entity then profits from taxpayers and/or users throughout the contract.
Exploring PPP Models for India
The audience joined the discussions on discussed challenges and opportunities in the Indian context.
Senior Indian leadership from the following WGIC Member companies joined the workshop – Esri India, Hexagon, IIC Technologies, Maxar, Oracle, Planet, TomTom, and Trimble; along with Partner organization OGC.
- Developmental challenges in India are far too complex compared to the global north, with multiple stakeholders and hierarchies involved.
- Answers to these challenges are always sought by the Government alone.
- Despite a significant amount of revenue coming from the government, the risk factor and management responsibility in PPP projects are always more significant for the private stakeholders.
- It is recognized that successful PPPs in India are seen in the context of infrastructure projects and not in the geospatial context.
- PPPs have so far taken place in a fragmented manner, viewing Geospatial data as a common good instead of an economic good.
- Lack of documentation of PPP case studies in the Indian context – those that worked and those that did not.
- There is a broad application of Geospatial for multiple Ministries and departments in the Government, but no common ground for initiating talks. Alignment of these Government ministries/departments is a mammoth task in itself.
- A conducive policy environment has opened up new opportunities; the entire Geospatial community can create more content than ever before.
- Significant developmental challenges in sectors like land or insurance in almost every state in the country offer a huge potential for PPPs – a business opportunity for the private sector and better public sector governance.
- Several Encouraging Examples/Initiatives in India:
- Survey of India (SoI) and Eicher’s PPP on developing an ‘All India Atlas’ bridged the gap between SoI’s mandates and the scarcity of resources to fulfill them.
- NITI Aayog has a dedicated vertical for PPPs, actively working towards deepening the reach of PPPs and attracting private sector and institutional capital to Indian projects.
- Successful PPPs seem to already exist in the country, albeit on smaller scales, especially in sectors like Construction/Infrastructure, Mapping, Registries, and so on. There is a need to explore and understand them.
- The primary motive of Public-Private Partnerships is to reduce uncertainties and improve resilience.
- Entrepreneurs need to develop revolutionary ideas to tackle risks associated with PPPs for the private sector.
- Investments in foundational data infrastructure are a must, and here there is value in exploring PPPs.
- The end product of a PPP must generate revenue for the partnership to be viable for both parties.
- Innovative & versatile PPP models help create and distribute fundamental Geospatial data and truly benefit multiple sectors for national development.
- PPP models must be comprehensive, looking at the entire Geospatial value chain in totality and viewing Geospatial data as an economic good.
- PPPs are to be constructed upon the concept of “Technology Commons.” The focus should be on bringing innovation in procurement – the private sector ideates while the public sector builds.”
This content is compiled by: Sakshi Singh, AGI India