Acting President urges Finance Corporation to engage African government

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo (first left) was speaking during the 10th Anniversary of the African Finance Corporation conference at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo has asked the African Finance Corporation, AFC, to look for new ways of engaging African governments.

This is given the present challenges that pervade the continent.

Osinbajo said this as he welcomed economic leaders, finance experts and investors to the 10th Anniversary of the AFC at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

He said the sovereign risk environment where most nations were able to pay for infrastructure development was changing, requiring “new thinking”.

Sovereign debts
He said governments had always, in the past, been the largest contributors to infrastructure, providing sovereign guarantees and cash support even when it was quite smooth do so.

“Today that is no longer forth coming, given the huge deficits and sovereign debts that most governments now face,” Osinbajo said.

The Acting President said that unless institutions like the AFC recognised what was important to do in these times, the next decade would be difficult for African economies.

“Government alone can’t build infrastructure”.

According to him, African countries would be relying on the AFC and Direct Foreign Investors to show more leadership since government cannot finance the huge infrastructure needs of people.

He gave the example of oil refining where Nigeria’s total capacity cannot produce 600,000 barrels of oil per day, but has one single private sector investor building the largest single line refinery of 650, 000 barrels of oil per day.

“So, there is no question at all that government simply cannot compare with the power of the private sector and the resources that the private sector put together,” Osinbajo said.

He called on the AFC to bring the private sector and the public sector together to deliver on the infrastructure needs that African countries require.

Market determination
According to the Acting President, “it is the market that determines everything since there can no longer be any form of central planning”.

He said it was the market that created the boom in the telecom industry with government regulatory environment for the industry to thrive, which has led to over 750 million people across Africa to have access to mobile phones as their first telephones.

Bridging infrastructural gap
Speaking at the event, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele said the AFC was established as an international finance institution to bridge infrastructural gap in Africa.

Emefiele said the AFC, after 10 years, has invested over four billion Dollars in various infrastructural projects across Africa.

He said the AFC should be encourage to do more in the role it has been playing by raising funds for projects in Africa.

Others who spoke at the event were the Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment of the Gambia, Dr. Isatou Toure, who commended Nigeria for the role it played in restoring democracy in her country after 22 years of dictatorship and the Ugandan Minister of Finance, Planing and Economic Development, Mr. Kasaji Mathia.

Nigeria’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo and former President of Benin Republic were among dignitaries that attended the event.

Sammie