According to experts, who gathered at an advocacy roundtable organised by the Nigeria-British Chamber of Commerce in Lagos, desired national economic development will remain a mirage unless necessary actions are taken to give face-lift to the infrastructure shortfall.
Indeed, a 30-year roadmap infrastructure development plan, known as the Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP), had projected that Nigeria required at least $2 trillion (N398.1 trillion) for infrastructure development over the next three decades.
But for a sustainable infrastructure development to happen, government must first address policy instability, poor legal and political framework, lack of a holistic view of national planning, lack of coordination between government agencies as well as limited capacity of civil servants, Managing Director, African Finance Corporation (AFC), said Andrew Alli, who spoke on ‘Achieving Sustainable Development through Infrastructure -The Role of the AFC.’ He noted that there were different ways for Sub-Sahara Africa, particularly Nigeria, to foster development through the access to infrastructure with limited resources.
Alli, who was represented by Executive Director Finance Services of the company, Sanjeev Gupta, stressed that stakeholders must tackle infrastructure challenges creatively, target private sector funding and integrate training and job creation components into projects from conception,
Noting that operations and maintenance of infrastructure projects must be prioritised, Alli said government must also ensure a favourable environment that would ease cost of doing business.
He linked project failure in the country to overestimate revenue and growth potential, insufficient attention to mitigating and controlling risk at the design phase, lack of confidence between the project stakeholders, ability to monitor project development and predict emerging risks and poor planning of asset operation.
To him, government needs to rethink efficient resource allocation, diversify sources of funding, improve implementation and delivery process to reduce bureaucracy and incentivise the private sector to invest with confidence.
President and Chairman of Council, Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce, Dapo Adelegan bemoaned the inability of government to provide necessary social infrastructure that could assuage daily pains of taxpayers in the country.
Adelegan said investing in infrastructure would drive economic growth, provide jobs, and deliver vital services to the country and the majority of her citizens.
“One of the critical parameters for measuring economic development is the level and sufficiency of the infrastructural development a nation possesses. This is an area Nigeria as a country has been struggling with”, Adelegan stated.
However, the NBCC president said government must not continue to execute every infrastructure development through Public Private Partnership (PPP), because “government must begin to see the issue of infrastructure from the point of social value rather than a bankable project.
“Government must set substantial part of its revenue to begin to do these things for the people because as long as infrastructure exists people and business will grow and can be taxed.”
He said the current administration must rethink the aversion to private sectors role and contribution to the nation’s economic team policies as unproductive and unsustainable, stressing that the experience and the knowledge of the private players would give critical input in the process of economic policy formulations and exertions.
“That is the part of wisdom that will lead to the collective prosperity and sustainable eco-growth of the Nigerian economy now and into the nearest future,” Adelegan said.
Managing Director, ARM Harith Infrastructure Investment Limited, Opuiyo Oforiokuma, while analysing challenges in the emerging markets, said legal framework, inability of stakeholders to understand infrastructure development and the differences in the challenge encounter across the markets create obstacles to infrastructure development.
“In emerging markets regulators just happen to be government and they don’t allow transparency that gives investors confidence. If investors do not have confidence in your environment, it may take many years for them to take certain decisions,” Oforiokuma Special Adviser to the Commissioner of Works & Infrastructure Lagos State, Tokunbo Ajanalai, said there are disconnect between government and investors because a lot of private sector investors are more concern about profit instead of value addition.
Relating the experience of Lagos state government, Tokunbo said most investors in the country take advantage of political opportunities without “nothing to back it up in terms of financing, technical ability and vision.”