As part of efforts to tackle challenges of infrastructure financing in Nigeria, leading experts in the financial sector are expected to proffer solutions at the annual conference of the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) on Saturday, September 16, 2017, in Lagos. Experts lined up for the conference themed, “Financing Nigeria’s Infrastructure: Issues, Challenges, and Options,” include President/Chief Executive of the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), Mr. Andrew Alli; Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers of Heritage Bank Plc, Mr. Ifie Sekibo; Rand Merchant Bank, Mr. Micheal Larbie; SunTrust Bank Limited, Mr. Mohammed Jibrin; Viathan Engineering Limited, Mr. Ladi Sanni; as well as Acting Director General of Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Engr. Chidi K.C. Izuwah.
The organizers said in a statement that the place of infrastructure in economic and social development of a country cannot be over emphasised. Infrastructure financing, according to the association, plays critical roles in promoting economic growth, standard of living, poverty reduction by enhancing productivity, improving competitiveness and linking people and organisations together through telecommunications, as well as contributing to environmental sustainability.
It said, “Nigeria is currently faced with huge infrastructural gap that has hindered its desire to exploit its rich natural and human resources for its development. For instance, in spite of the country’s huge oil and gas, sunlight and hydro resources, Nigeria cannot generate enough electricity to drive its development. Indeed, Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit had stymied its economic growth, restricted productivity of its economy and limited its competitiveness. The challenge of the absence of critical infrastructure continues to impact negatively on the cost of doing business, investment, and capital inflow into the country.”
The statement added that it has been projected that Nigeria needs to invest $10 billion annually over the next 10 years for it to significantly reduce its infrastructure deficit. Some of the sectors that require huge investments include power, housing and highways, railways, ports, airports, dams, bridges and tunnels, oil and gas, water and sanitation and telecommunication. Therefore, presently, the need to evolve creative options to generate long-term finance to tackle the country’s infrastructural challenges is one of the most important questions agitating the minds of policy makers in public and private sectors.
“What are the appropriate financing vehicles to enable the federal, states and local governments in the country achieve the objective of infrastructure development? Are Nigerian banks well positioned to finance such big-ticket deals?” are among issues the experts are expected to discuss at the conference.