BRIDGING INFRASTRUCTURE GAPS IN NIGERIA, 61 YEARS AFTER INDEPENDENCE
By: Elizabeth Christopher
The level of development in countries around the world is viewed mostly based on the level of infrastructure, economic and human resource development.
The three go hand in hand for real development to be attained.
Most developing countries lack basic infrastructure compared to those of the developed world. These inadequacies are the major reasons why most of these countries are still lagging behind.
Nigeria from 1960 to date has witnessed some infrastructural challenges, which make economic growth and development slow or even difficult. The dearth and decay of these infrastructures in most sectors such as water, sanitation, power, communication, roads, housing, transportation systems, education or health certainly affect the socio-economic well-being of the citizenry.
Nigeria is blessed with abundant natural and human resources especially with one of the largest natural gas and crude oil reserves in Africa, over 300,000 square kilometres of arable land, and significant deposits of largely untapped minerals, the increased in technological innovation with fast growing urbanization has continued to put pressure on the Nigeria’s infrastructure system.
With a population of over 200 million people and an estimated Gross Domestic Product of over five hundred and eighty-seven billion United States dollars in 2015, Nigeria needs adequate infrastructure to maintain its position as the biggest economy in Africa.
Although successive governments had developed several programmes and initiatives targeting funding, investment and provision of infrastructure for the nation, the objective of these governments have not yielded the desired results.
Various Governments since independence in 1960, came up with several strategies to help develop and move the country forward. The first was the National Development Plan 1962-68. The current Development Plan is the 23-year National Integrated Infrastructure m\Master Plan 2020-2043.
Over the years, funding has been the major factor militating against the provision of the much needed infrastructure thereby creating a huge deficit in the country.
As contained in the Nigerian National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan, two point three trillion dollars, translating to about $150 billion US Dollars will be required annually to bridge Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit.
In his efforts to bridge the funding gaps, President Muhammadu Buhari established an Infrastructure Development Company, a special purpose company to serve Nigerians. It is co-owned by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Africa Finance Corporation and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority.
The company managed by an Independent Infrastructure Fund Manager is meant strictly to mobilize local and foreign capital to support the Nigerian Government in providing infrastructure required to move agriculture and other products processors, raw materials to factories, and finished goods to the end users in markets and for exports.
It is believed that encouraging the private sector to invest in infrastructure would fast track development and this is why government adopted the concession of some basic infrastructure facilities to attract investment and attract funds.
The Nigerian government has also raised six hundred and sixty-nine billion Naira from the Nigerian capital market through issuance of Sukuk Bonds to construct and rehabilitate more than 44 roads across the six geo-political zones and some of roads have started to impact positively around the country.
Recent government policies are geared towards tying borrowing plans to capital expenditures as all foreign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency (AFD), China Export-Import (Exim) Bank, International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), the Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chartered/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE) are directed at funding infrastructure in the strategic sectors.
Nigerians and indeed the nation’s trade partners believe that most of these loans, if fully channeled to the critical sectors that would propel socio economic activities, will lead to accelerated development of not only infrastructure, but the nation, for the good of all.