Nigeria needs an estimated $80billion in financial commitment annually over 10years to fix its infrastructure deficit, according to economic experts in the nation’s infrastructure space.
Speaking on Wednesday at the national workshop of the Association of Business Editors in Nigeria (ABEN), themed: ‘Infrastructure Financing as Pathway to Sustainable Economic Development,’ leading infrastructure stakeholders in the Dangote Group and the Lagos State government among others, charged government at all levels to partner the private sector to fix the ailing infrastructure buy aiding business growth and economic development.
Speaking on the topic, the former acting Managing Director/CEO, Bank of Industry (BoI), Waheed Olagunju, stated there cannot be meaningful development without investment in infrastructure, which catalyses development in all sectors of the economy
According to him, “Nigeria needs $80billion every year over the next 10 years to finance its infrastructure gap. And to address this, government must partner private sector to provide funding for key infrastructure projects.”
Olagunju, who was also the chairman of the occasion, said, realising how critical infrastructure like road 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 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. Let’s continue to market Nigeria as an investment destination, ignore negative reporting that is negatively 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, should be adaptive and avoid too much bureacracy that could distract investments.
Infrastructure takes longer time between 20 to 30 years, hence, structures must be built around continuity of infrastructural projects irrespective of who is in government,” he noted.
In a presentation at the event, the Dangote Group, who are the co-sponsors of the workshop promised to play more critical roles in the years ahead toward supporting public private partnership that will lead to improving the nation’s infrastructure space.
Giving a keynote speech at the event, Lagos State’s Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Sam Egube, restated the need to raise capital from all credible sources to fix infrastructure, and to also ensure that the fiscal financing structure meets international standards, such that, the private sector can finance projects without any fear of losing their money.
Egube stated that Lagos State has tried this model and found it to be working, adding that, a lot of capital projects ongoing in the state have more private sector funding input leading 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 is 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 pointed out.
However, private sector is key in all these projects, hence, the government must embrace PPP arrangements to address infrastructure deficit in the country, ” 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 32million 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, of 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 taxation 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 is a cause for concern, calling 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.
Also at the event, goodwill Messages from the Dangote group, UBA and Access Bank, among other sponsors of the annual conference.