Friday, 1st December 2023

Soludo, others seek sustainable infrastructure financing for economic growth 

By Victor Gbonegun and Waliat Musa
23 June 2023   |   3:04 am
Anambra State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, yesterday, said the Federal Government needs to double its spending from two to three per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to over 10 per cent in bridging the nation’s huge infrastructure gap.

Governor Soludo

 •Nigeria needs $100 billion yearly to bridge deficit

Anambra State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo, yesterday, said the Federal Government needs to double its spending from two to three per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to over 10 per cent in bridging the nation’s huge infrastructure gap.

He also stressed the need to deploy smart strategies, public-private partnership and synergy between the federal and state governments to fix the infrastructure needs of Nigerians.

Speaking at the 2023 yearly lecture of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering (NAE), titled: ‘Financing Engineering Infrastructure’ in Lagos, the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor deplored the nation’s infrastructure stock, estimated at 20 to 25 of GDP, a far cry from the global benchmark of 70 per cent.
The economist said the 2014 National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP) estimates that $3 trillion of investments or $100 billion yearly is required over the next 30 years to bridge the nation’s infrastructure deficit.
He stated that what needs to change in infrastructure development in the country is for government to target a minimum of eight to 15 per cent of GDP in public infrastructure investment yearly for the next decade.
The Anambra helmsman advised the Federal Government to deploy disruptive big bang approach with deadline, adding that as President Bola Tinubu successful tamed the Atlantic in Lagos as a governor, he can also conquer the persisting national emergency of flooding, infrastructure deficit and gully erosion bedeviling the country. He said the Federal Government infrastructure plan should unleash the fastest transformation in history.

Soludo went on: “It (plan) must be big in size to be meaningful, and disruptive in delivery mechanism, to be efficient and impactful. 
“Infrastructure Regulatory Framework should be a federation body rather than a Federal Government affair, unleash private participation through big bang concession, privatisation and market-priced infrastructure funding. The CBN can coordinate such syndication that provides at least $30 to 50 billion yearly for infrastructure investment.
“The options and opportunities are looking bright, especially with the move by CBN to ensure a competitive forex market. Tapping into the trillions of dollars of global financial markets might have greater promise with CBN probably subsidising project development costs to prepare such projects for bankability and forbearances to banks to provide long-tenured infrastructure financing.”
The governor said the academy can, indeed, be the pivot of the much-needed synergy – by professionally leading the way – at least in designing and enforcing professional national standards.  He urged the Federal Government to appropriate and supervise procurement/execution of intra-state infrastructure, including repairs/maintenance, while states procure/execute.
NAE President, Prof. Azikiwe Peter Onwualu, said Nigeria is currently challenged in virtually in all sectors of the economy, adding that it is the belief of the academy that most of the challenges can be overcome if engineering and technology are applied in a sustainable manner.   
He implored government to declare a state of emergency on critical infrastructure like electricity, transportation, housing, manufacturing and security.

The NAE boss said what the nation lacks are strong institutions for effective implementation of policies and laws; appropriate feedback-based monitoring and evaluation systems, as well as use of engineering and technology to optimise project implementation.
In his remarks, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, represented by his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, harped on skill acquisition and knowledge in engineering and support for professionals in practice for the development of the country.

He noted that a major gap in infrastructure development is getting funding, hence the imperative of innovative solutions and ideas to address the challenge.
The governor said government alone cannot provide the needed infrastructure, adding that through collaborations with relevant stakeholders, the problem could be solved. He stressed the need to provide security and opportunity for investors in infrastructure to recoup their investments.

The forum attracted leaders in engineering profession, National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and equally witnessed induction of 13 new members and recognition for life achievement.