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Stakeholders seek roadmap for private sector participation in infrastructure

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Worried about the devastating effects of an infrastructural deficiency in national life, stakeholders in the construction sector have begun moves to address the challenge.

The stakeholders, drawn from professional bodies, private and public sectors, said the intervention is based on the fact that the government lacked the financial wherewithal to address the colossal infrastructural challenges plaguing the country.

Currently, Nigeria needs about N10.63trillion ($67billion) to tackle its infrastructure gap, while there is also a deficiency in the physical infrastructure.

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But, the stakeholders, who gathered under Construction and Infrastructure Summit Group, said governments do not have the capacity to build modern infrastructure through budgetary allocations.

According to them, there is a need for a commercial, legal and technical framework to allow the private sector to inject funds into infrastructure in the country.

The Chairman of the group and President of Association of Professional Bodies in Nigeria (APBN), Chief Olumuyiwa Ajibola, said infrastructure is the bedrock of the economy.

According to him, a well-developed infrastructure is not only essential for attracting foreign investments, but it is also vital for the long-term growth and competitiveness of nations worldwide.

He said the group, will be organizing a forum later in the year to address the infrastructural challenges militating against the country’s growth.

The summit intends to work with the government and private sector, to secure clients/ proponents of infrastructure projects, as well as other stakeholders and industry players who have projects and purpose in tandem with their vision, to realize the summit agenda.

“Indeed every aspect of life is facilitated by appropriate infrastructure. Robust infrastructure helps to determine progress towards diversification of production, expansion of the economy, the capacity to cope with population growth, reduction in poverty, improvement of environmental conditions.

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“The inadequacy of infrastructure in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, without a doubt, is making life difficult for people. The perennial electricity shortages, housing problems, lack of proper water and sanitation infrastructure are making the living conditions of Nigerians uncomfortable.

“Nigeria loses N2.0 – N3.05trillion, and probably up to three out of every four Micro businesses annually, as the overall economy stunts or even stagnates”, he added.

According to him, the rapidly increasing population puts additional strain on the already inadequate infrastructure, amid a weak economy, low growth, food insecurity, and unemployment. In view of this, the case for the rapid bridging of the Infrastructure gap cannot be overemphasized.

While noting efforts at addressing physical infrastructure, the former president of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, (NSE), said so much is yet to be done, in the face of the magnitude of the demand.

He, however, expressed confidence that with appropriate strategies in place, much can be achieved within a short run of time.

“There must also be active participation of the private sector to support the government’s efforts. Fortunately, with the ICRC act in place, the expertise has grown in the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models for infrastructure delivery over the years.

“This is, therefore, the vintage opportunity, to apply this Special Vehicle of PPP in accelerating the delivery of infrastructure, he noted.

He also called for the development of soft Infrastructure, comprises of the experts as well as the systems to deliver, manage, and maintain the physical infrastructure.

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“ The development of robust soft infrastructure is the reason for which there is an extended performance in quality and lifespan of physical infrastructure, in the developed world. The entire value chain needs the much required special attention”, he said.

“Delivering quality Infrastructure also requires the development and deployment of state – of – the – art technologies, with which we as a country need to catch up, in this second decade of the twenty-first century.

“It is, however, our view that the private sector should be encouraged to participate more in the Infrastructure delivery in the country.

“The summit, therefore, envisages the collaboration of both the private and the public sectors to generate the optimal approach to the bridging of the infrastructure deficit”, he added.

The past president of Nigerian Institute of Architects, (NIA), Tonye Braide, said professionals have decided to come together to tackle deficit infrastructure because it is life

He stressed that the summit will come out with a roadmap to ensure that Nigeria gets more efficient infrastructure delivery strategies as well as get significantly better value for money through procurement.

Also, the president and Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Sir Johnson Chukwu said there is a need for the government to come up with commercial , legal and technical frameworks to develop private capital to being money to fund infrastructure in the country.

On his part, former president of Nigerian Institute of Town Planners, Bunmi Ajayi lamented that lack of planning was at the helm of infrastructural challenges in the country.

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