The push for development of Infrastructure in Nigeria Intensifies

Infrastructure in a broader sense refers to fundamental facilities and systems serving a country, city, or other area, including the services and facilities necessary for its economy to function. It is composed of public and private physical improvements such as roads, bridges, tunnels, water supply, sewers, electrical grids, and telecommunications. Generally, infrastructure is also described as “the physical components of interrelated systems providing commodities and services essential to enable, sustain, or enhance societal living conditions

In modern economy, infrastructure is a critical factor in attracting investments (local and foreign), ability to spur SMEs and make the local economy attractive. Financing infrastructure thus plays critical role in promoting economic growth, improving standard of living, poverty reduction, enhancing productivity and in improving competitiveness. The challenges of the absence of critical infrastructure is that it will continue to impact negatively on the cost of doing business, investment, and capital inflow into any country. Robust infrastructure helps to determine one country’s success and another’s failure in diversifying production, expanding trade, coping with population growth, reducing poverty or improving environmental conditions. According to the World Bank’s World Development Report, one percent increase in the stock of infrastructure is associated with a one percent increase in gross domestic product (GDP) irrespective of countries

Development economics also postulates on the correlation among infrastructure obtainable in a given economy, the level of socio-economic activities and the quality of life. In a nutshell, industrialization and income statistics depend largely on infrastructure available. No economy can be competitive without robust infrastructure

From Asia to Europe and Africa, it has been found out that nations that score high in investments in infrastructure emerge with high per capital income, high living standards and quality of life as well as top the league of good places to live in.

In March 2018, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released Nigeria’s 2018 Article IV consultation report, highlighting the country’s exit from the recession that started in the first quarter of 2016. According to the report, the Nigerian economy grew by 0.8 percent in 2017 with growth forecasted at 2.1 percent in 2018. As part of the report for Nigeria this year, the IMF summarized trends in public investment, and discovered that public investment ‘is lower and of worse quality than other emerging market economies’. According to the authors, a large infrastructure gap is often a particular impediment to growth and narrowing it can raise GDP growth.

Typical of any developing nation, especially in Africa, it is a common knowledge that Nigeria is facing huge infrastructural deficit across all sectors. Indeed, Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit is widely believed to be a major hindrance to sustainable economic growth. But it also presents huge opportunities to investors.

Therefore to overcome one of the biggest constraints in doing business in Nigeria, fixing of its infrastructural gaps is very essential. This will surely lead to attracting more foreign direct investments, create millions of jobs; curb crime rate and boost tourism. Besides, it will boost many sectors, including steel, cement, auto, and real estate, leading to rapid economic growth and sustainable development. Another key benefit of adequate infrastructure in Nigeria, especially transportation infrastructure, is the reduction of transport costs, which helps to create new markets, fosters competition, spurs innovation, lowers prices, raises productivity and in turn leads to increase in living standards.

The Director General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Mr. Chidi Izuwah, disclosed that the total amount of funds required at the moment to provide quality infrastructure in Nigeria over the next six years is about $100 billion. He estimated that while about $60 billion would be required for the oil and gas sector; about $20 billion to revamp the power sector; $14 billion for road; and between $8 and $17 billion for rail tracks. At present, the value of Nigeria’s infrastructure is about 35 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), failing in comparison with 70 per cent for larger economies

The Special Adviser to President Muhammed Buhari on economic matters, Dr. Yemi Dipeolu, suggested a stronger focus and more investment in infrastructures to improve the ease of doing business in the country, which will automatically improve the economy.

According to him the present administration believed “the only way to grow, develop and improve the cost of living or standard of living of people, is to have an effective infrastructure”. He added that this administration pointedly focus on infrastructure and it has continued on that trajectory going by recent developments nationwide.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, also during an inspection of the Apapa-Wharf Road Reconstruction project and flag-off of the reconstruction of the Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki- Ojota Expressway in Lagos recently assured that President Muhammadu Buhari was laying the foundation for economic growth of Nigeria through infrastructure renewal. The Apapa-Wharf Road Reconstruction Project was done by AG Dangote Construction Company Ltd and financed by the Dangote Group, Nigerian Ports Authority and Flour Mills of Nigeria.

The Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki- Ojota Expressway project was awarded to the Dangote Group.

In addition the federal government has also commenced plans that will address the double loading of containers at the five port terminals at Apapa, Lagos by linking the port terminals with standard gauge railway line. The implication is that the existing narrow gauge railway line linking the five port terminals would be replaced by standard gauge rail system as against the present arrangement whereby containers designated to be moved by rail on the narrow gauge railway line are first offloaded into parked trucks near the quay apron for onward transfer to the wagons on rail tracks. According to the Minister of Transport, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the tracks would be laid near the quay apron so as to ensure quick loading and unloading of containers directly from vessels to wagons. If this is done, it will greatly reduce or eliminate the present chaotic and gridlock that often occasion movement of goods by trucks in and out of ports.ks in and out of ports

In line with this a huge part of the N9.12 trillion budget for 2018, N1.6 trillion was allocated to infrastructure, which the administration described “as a rare feat in Nigeria’s economic history”. ‘’The jumbo infrastructure allocation was commenda-

In line with this a huge part of the N9.12 trillion budget for 2018, N1.6 trillion was allocated to infrastructure, which the administration described “as a rare feat in Nigeria’s economic history”.

ble because physical and social infrastructure are critical for a nation to function well’’, the former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, stated. She asserted further that “the N1.6 trillion allocated to infrastructure was a rare feat in Nigeria’s economic history and a confirmation of Buhari government’s commitment to infrastructural development.”

President Muhammed Buhari administration in 2017 had released close to N1.6 trillion on infrastructure, the first of its kind in the country; a demonstration of the administration’s commitment to spend on infrastructure as part of its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

A breakdown of 2018 budget estimates showed that the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing had the highest allocation with N715 billion for both recurrent and capital expenditure, Ministry of Interior got N577 billion, while Ministry of Education was allocated N542 billion. Also, Ministry of Health was allocated N356 billion, Transportation, N267 billion and Ministry of Water Resources, N155 billion.

According to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, some of the key projects to be carried out in the year are weaved around infrastructure, security and human development. Specifically, the sum of N530.8 million would be used in constructing the terminal building at Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, and N8.32 billion for the construction of the second runway of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Furthermore, the sum of N162.28 billion was set aside as counterpart funding for railway projects, while N9.4 billion was earmarked for the Mambilla hydro-power project. The sum of N344 billion was for the construction and rehabilitation of several roads nationwide and N26.7 billion allocated to National Housing Programme. The health sector was allocated N55.15 billion for the implementation of the National Health Act, while N300 million was for health emergencies and contagious diseases outbreaks.

Participants at several forums have also marshalled robust positions and solutions on how Nigeria can scale up its drive for infrastructural development. As an emerging economies, much is expected to be done by successive administration in the country especially in the infrastructure sector. This will not only determine the competitiveness of its economy but also to attract global resources that modern economies leverage to compete.

First, the government must dump its statist instincts and realise that the public sector simply cannot muster the resources to bridge the dire infrastructure gap alone. The President should enthusiastically opt for a close partnership with the private sector.First, the government must dump its statist instincts and realise that the public sector simply cannot muster the resources to bridge the dire infrastructure gap alone. The President should enthusiastically opt for a close partnership with the private sector.

The federal and state governments also need to urgently map out programmes of massive infrastructure development. The centre should concentrate on what economists identify as “hard” infrastructure, and the states and local governments, on rural facilities

An urgent need for a robust policy of privatization and liberalization is recommended and repeal the 1955 Railways Act that decreed state monopoly on railways; state withdrawal from steel, downstream oil and gas, airports and transport, as well as mining. Public resources should also be concentrated on “soft” infrastructure – institutions that are required to maintain the economy and these include health, education, law enforcement, sanitation and water supply, the financial system and culture.

Only private sector entrepreneurship and massive foreign and domestic investment can bridge the infrastructure gap through consistent investment of up to $31 billion each year for the next decade

In addition the government was advised to quickly dust off the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan, a 30-year plan inaugurated in 2014 and deepen its collaboration with the Nigerian Infrastructure Advisory Facility, funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development to assist Nigeria with expertise in infrastructure plans that is now in its second phase.

There is a need for greater thinking to raise and diversify revenues. Liberalisation policies and transparent privatisations that target major world players, FDIs through the sale of steel, power (NIPP), mining and refineries, pipelines and depots as well as concessions for airports, rail tracks, river basin development authorities, stadia and tourism facilities will help

Transparency and accountability in the managing of the resources of the nation should also be taken seriously in order to avoid the pitfalls that bedeviled the past development plan

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