CPCS is an Ottawa consultancy firm that has worked closely with the World Bank to promote privatization in Africa and elsewhere. CPCS president Peter Kieran said it “spent a lot of time and work on privatization throughout Africa.” With half its business on the continent, CPCS Transcom helped concession or privatize ports, railways and electricity companies in no less than a dozen sub-Saharan African countries. Since the 1990s the Ottawa firm has participated in more than $22 billion US in public-private partnership transactions across the continent, which is almost equal to the GDP for 30 million Ugandans.
In its biggest project, CPCS oversaw the disastrous privatization of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the main electricity provider for the nation of 160 million. CPCS oversaw the selloff of 11 power distribution companies and four gas-fired generating plants as well as the long-term concessioning of two hydro plants. According to the firm: “CPCS worked hand-in-hand with the Federal Government as its transaction advisor in every aspect of this sale. CPCS carried out the due diligence review, developing detailed privatization plans for each of the successor companies. … CPCS was responsible for administering the entire privatisation transaction, including responding to thousands of investor inquiries, evaluating proposals received, leading the negotiations with preferred bidders, and assisting the government in completing the sale and handing over companies to the private investors.”
The Financial Times reported that businessmen close to the government and former military leaders acquired most of the assets. “The sale of the plants attracted strong interest from some of Nigeria’s richest businessmen as well as retired military generals.” Prior to the sale, Reuter’s correspondent Joe Brock wrote an article headlined “Murky Deals Cast Doubt over Nigeria’s Power Sell-off”. It noted: “Since power minister Barth Nnaji resigned in August over an alleged conflict of interest, doubts are gathering about the integrity of the process, as oligarchs with scant experience in running power firms line up for a slice of this lucrative pie. As with Russia in its 1992-1994 sell off of state assets, it is entrenched political and business elites who look set to win much of Nigeria’s power sector, even while Western aid agencies are backing the process with tens of millions of dollars.”
A favorite consultancy firm of the World Bank and the Canadian aid agency, CPCS promotes the idea that the public cannot build, operate or manage services. Driven by ideology and a desire to make more money, the Ottawa company claims the way forward is through public-private partnerships (PPPs), which often go beyond a standard design and build construction contract to include private sector participation in service operation, financing and decision making. CPCS officials sing the praises of PPPs in their writings, speeches and the company’s PPP newsletter. The firm also sponsors various pro-privatization forums such as the annual Africa Public Private Partnership Conference & Showcase.
CPCS head Peter Kieran is chairman of the Canada Nigeria Chamber of Commerce and former chair of the Canadian Council on Africa (CCAfrica) and currently sits on its board of directors. CCAfrica claims to “maintain very close relations with the Canadian government as well as African governments.”