WorldStage Newsonline-- It was a mixed grill of thoughts, ideas and solutions proffered by diverse minds in tackling the issues, challenges and options of financing Nigeria’s infrastructure, during the 2017 annual conference of Finance Correspondent Association of Nigeria (FICAN) in Lekki, Lagos over the weekend.
In the words of The Director General (DG) of Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Engr. Chidi Izuwah in his opening remarks at the FICAN conference, “It is high time we kill Infrastructure deficit before it kills us.”
Izuwah who gave perspectives on facilitating infrastructure financing in Nigeria, said the challenge was not in financing infrastructure, but in funding Infrastructure.
Izuwah said government spending which is 10% of GDP, is not enough to finance infrastructure.
“Government spending will not solve Nigeria's infrastructure problem but private capital will,” he said
Izuwah gave an example of the Lekki toll road, explaining that the road which was provided (financed) through a public-private partnership is currently being funded (maintained) by the citizens who ply the route.
He noted that investor protection problem, payment discipline and others serve as deterrents to the much needed private capital which he believed will check corruption.
The ICRC boss expressed hope that a Public Private Partnership (PPP) disclosure portal which billed to be launched on the 22nd of September by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, will address many of the identified challenges.
Speaking from the perspective of the investors, the CEO of Rand Merchant Bank Nigeria, Mr Michael Larbie agreed with the ICRC boss on the availability of finance towards funding infrastructure problem, but that a framework needs to be created where money can be put to work towards getting better infrastructure.
Larbie, the Regional head of RMB for West Africa noted that Nigeria is too big to ignore, saying road infrastructure is a very viable project in Nigeria.
According to him, what is needed, is a tariff system which would pay for the financed project.
Larbie said it would be better for Government to stay off projects which would naturally attract investors, such as the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway which was taken over from the Wale Babalakin group.
He referred to the project as a low point to his company which was a financial adviser to it.
He said if such a project is handled through Public private Partnership, that will free up funds for other projects that investors are will not willingly venture into, such as development projects in insurgency or war-torn townships
The RMB boss also called on the Nigerian government to strengthen the sanctity of contracts which he said will boost the confidence of for investments.
Delivering the keynote address, the President/CEO, African Finance Corporation, Andre Alli who was represented by Fola Fagbule, disclosed that Nigeria needed about $3trillion on economic infrastructure over the next 30 years to meet its ambitious development goals.
A breakdown of the figure amounts to $100 billion annually to finance Nigeria's infrastructure deficit.
Also at the event was Mr Ladi Sanni the CEO of Viathan Engineering who spoke about the experience of his firm on Raising Funds for Infrastructure Development in Nigeria.