By Okeoghene Akubuike
Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation(SGF), says there is the need to develop and imbibe a resilient Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework in Africa.
The SGF said this on Monday in Abuja, at a two-day Africa Public Private Partnership Network (AP3N) Investment programme, with the theme, “Financing Africa’s Infrastructure through PPP”.
The programme was organised by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).
Mustapha said that a resilient and vibrant PPP was necessary in order to facilitate rapid infrastructure transformation on the continent.
He said the current economic growth pattern on the continent stressed the importance of private sector investment through PPP in promoting Africa’s growth and structural transformation.
“Hence, identifying the private sector development as an engine of sustainable structural transformation through PPPs is of critical importance to the continent,” he said.
Mustapha, however, said that to stimulate and create a vibrant private sector on the continent and accelerate infrastructure development, some issues needed to be addressed.
According to him, there is definitely the need to create a welcoming investment climate.
“This can be achieved by reducing risks and costs of doing business and by securing private property rights, improving governance, fighting corruption, simplifying regulations, and promoting competition.
“African governments must also resist pressure to erect trade barriers for intra-African trade to flourish. Currently, intra-African trade among African states is about 10 per cent of total exports.
“This is the lowest among other regions in the world. But we strongly believe that with the initiative of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, the situation will drastically improve.”
He said there was the need for financial sector development by strengthening regulatory and institutional frameworks to improve governance and increase competition.
“Also to improve access to finance and financial literacy, developing payment systems, and enhancing creditor rights, similarly, access to finance by the private sector is equally the very key.”
The SGF said the Federal Government had continued to encourage and support strengthening of the framework for Public Private Partnership (PPP) policy in Nigeria.
According to him, the current financial situation of Nigeria occasioned by the global COVID-19 pandemic and dwindling revenue has made the shift to PPPs more compelling than before.
He, however, said the government would continue to maintain the integrity, adding that transparency must form the basis of all decisions on PPPs to ensure the right framework for effective partnership and value for money.
The Acting Director-General, ICRC, Michael Ohiani, said the theme of the Summit was apt, given the critical role played by PPPs in the transformation of global economies.
Ohiani maintained that the vision of AP3N is to have a network of PPP experts across the African continent to find concrete solutions to bridge infrastructure gaps in the continent.
He said this was done by bringing together PPP units, professionals and experts across the continent to design, develop, and implement infrastructure projects in tune with global best practices for infrastructure and service delivery.
“We believe that this continental body needs to continually provide the avenue for interactions and networking among African PPP practitioners, to have a common body of knowledge.
“This is especially so, as we have our peculiar circumstances and we need to deal with our infrastructure and service provision challenges with respect to our ways while keeping a watchful eye on global trends and developments.”
The director-general said Nigeria was not spared from the financial challenges that resulted from COVID-19.
However, he said there was a growing need to salvage projects which were under implementation as well as develop bankable and viable PPP projects for investment.
“For 2022, ICRC intends to gazette a pipeline of 53 eligible and bankable PPP projects worth about 22 billion dollars very soon,’’ he said.
Ohiani said the key in the 21st century was for governments to enhance the investment environment for national-level investment for local and foreign investors.
The Director-General, Nigerian Governors Forum, Asishana Okauru, said the forum had collaborated with ICRC to establish the Nigeria Public Private Partnership Network.
Okauru, represented by Mr Eghosa Omoigui, Head Stakeholders Relations/SDGs, NGF, said the network was established to address the issues and bottlenecks toward infrastructure development of strategic sectors of the subnational economy by PPP.
He said the NGF believed that improving the capacity and resources of state governments to prepare PPP pipelines and bankable projects was key to achieving SDG 7, which is industry, innovation and infrastructure.
Okauru said that this would offer a sustainable long-term approach to improving social infrastructure, enhancing the value of public sector assets, and making better use of taxpayers’ money.