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Nigeria needs to commit about $800billion every year to fix its infrastructure deficit, experts have said.
Speaking at the National Workshop organised by the Association of Business Editors in Nigeria (ABEN), yesterday in Lagos, leading infrastructure stakeholders, among them the Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Samuel Egube, a representative from the Dangote Group and the former acting Managing Director/CEO, Bank of Industry (BoI), Dr Waheed Olagunju, said there cannot be meaningful development without investment in infrastructure, which they agreed catalyses development in all sectors of the economy
Olagunju, who chaired the occasion which had ‘Infrastructure Financing as Pathway to Sustainable Economic Development’ as theme, said: “Nigeria needs $80billion every year over the next 10 years to finance its infrastructure gap and to address this, government must partner the private sector to provide funding for key infrastructure projects.”
Realising how critical infrastructure, like roads and rail transportation as well as maritime and aviation sectors are, the Federal Government through the National Development Plan (2021-2025) expected the transportation industry to generate 15 per cent of such funding amounting to N52trillion of the over N300 trillion revenue target, into the economy, even as it expects 85 per cent of resources to come from the private sector through a Public Private Partnership (PPP).
While making a case for inclusive growth and sustainable development, the former BoI boss said good ratings are critical to making Nigeria an investment hub, urging the government to have an internationally acceptable standard and structure that financiers would be interested in, to fund developmental projects in the country.
“Nigeria must be an investment hub for investors,” Olagunju said, saying everyone must “continue to market Nigeria as an investment destination, ignoring negative reporting that is affecting the ratings of Nigeria as a country. Rule of law must be right to build confidence in the system. Our laws and constitution should not be cumbersome, but should be adaptive and avoid too much bureaucracy that could distract investments.”
state have more private sector funding input giving credence to the quality of structures the state government has, to attract financiers for its projects.
According to him, to get funding from the private sector, both local and international, for ‘your infrastructure projects, your ratings must be right’. Pension funds are also another alternative to finance infrastructure development but you must get your structure right to drive the needed funding.
“Infrastructure is huge, so, it’s beyond the federal government alone, states and local governments must equally play their parts while the private sector provides the funding,” he stated.
Egube said the private sector is key in all these projects, hence, the government must embrace PPP arrangements to address infrastructure deficit in the country.
Egube also touched on the scope of work the Lagos State government is pursuing, including those at the Lagos Free Trade Zone and the Badagry axis.
He said: “The Lekki deep seaport is three times bigger than Apapa port and what that does is to improve turn-around time, attracts Investment and business opportunities to the Lekki axis and this is how development works. The rail system is targeted at transporting 32 million people monthly. The 4th mainland bridge project will soon be awarded by December. We target to lay 6,000km of fibre cable across the state, the first phase of 3,000km is almost concluded and what that does is increase internet connectivity and reduce the cost of data.
Also, the Managing Director, Sundry Foods Limited, Ebele Onunwa, who was represented by the company’s Regional Manager, Jubril Shoaga, called on government to address the challenge of multiple taxations currently impeding Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across the country.
Earlier, the Chairman of ABEN, Omoh Gabriel said the level of infrastructure deficit in the country was a cause for concern, and called for more discussions around this critical problem.
He noted that every developed economy invested heavily in infrastructure, adding that Nigeria’s case should not be an exemption.
To this end, he called for strong collaboration between the public and private sectors to fix this challenge.
Among sponsors of the event were the Dangote Group, BUA Group, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Access Bank, FirstBank and Sundry Foods, among other
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