The long-awaited award of the contract to build the Al-Zour North project, Kuwait’s first independent water and power project (IWPP), could be a key milestone in the country’s development ambitions.

The IWPP is the first deal the Partnerships Technical Bureau (PTB), Kuwait’s public-private partnership (PPP) body, has awarded since its launch in 2008, and has long been seen as pivotal for Kuwait’s aim of increasing private participation in its development plans.

The contract was approved in March last year, but it has taken almost a year for the scheme to gain final approval from the government. Political schisms have frequently held back Kuwait’s development plans, and the complex nature of the PPP procurement method led to further delays.

The award will give the PTB the confidence that it has the support of the government and also provides a precedent of what is required to succeed in the PPP programme, and what lessons need to be learned for future involvement of the private sector.

In December, the PTB invited firms to express interest in providing consultancy support in planning and overseeing the implementation of its PPP projects. The appointment of an experienced in-house consultant will further boost the PTB’s efforts to execute planned schemes.

The Al-Zour award is the latest sign that 2013 is shaping up to be a productive year for Kuwait’s projects market. After a slow 2011 and a disappointing start to 2012, the projects sector was boosted towards the end of the year by several major awards. In October, the Public Works Ministry awarded the KD720m ($2.6bn) contract to build the Subiya Causeway, a key project that had been planned for almost a decade.

After a difficult period, the early signs are positive for Kuwait’s development plans. The new parliament was able to make swift and decisive action with the Al-Zour scheme. Similar political unity and consensus is required if the projects sector is to realise its potential.