UAE’s streetlight PPP could signal more federal deals

Exclusive: The UAE’s newly announced nationwide streetlighting tender is tipped to be the first of more deals to stem from the country’s recently announced federal PPP law.

The Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure (MoEI) said on Wednesday it is requesting private partners to design, build, finance, operate and maintain over 850km of federal road lighting network, with around 30,000 lights needing to be retrofitted with more energy efficient equipment.

Raghu Mandagolathur, head of research at Kuwait Financial Center, an asset management company, told Partnerships Bulletin that the UAE’s Cabinet approval of the PPP law in September “highlighted” the country’s renewed nationwide focus on private partnerships.

“While Dubai and Abu Dhabi had their PPP laws, traditionally [at the federal level] there was only the Public Private Partnership Provisions and Procedure Manual,” Mandagolathur noted, adding that the new law could ignite a wave of cross-border deals across all seven emirates, including Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Sharjah and Fujairah.

Against the backdrop of the new law, the streetlighting project covering the federal roads network could “signal further deals” in the space, Mandagolathur said.

“Additionally, individual emirate initiatives, such as RAK’s plans to bring in more contributions from the private sector as part of its strategy to reduce energy and water consumption, could also indicate the introduction of more such projects,” he added.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, revealed the plans for a new PPP law in September in a tweet following a meeting of the Cabinet.

“Our goal is to create opportunities and encourage the private sector to engage in developmental, economic and social projects and to develop partnerships that lead to improving the quality of public services,” he said.

The Middle East as a region has significantly ramped up its efforts to use the PPP model to increase infrastructure development and diversify its economy over recent years.

To read more about the UAE’s PPP potential, click here.