‘Infrastructure deficit in Nigeria requires $14.2bn annual expenditure for 10yrs’
An end to infrastructure deficiency in Nigeria may not be readily in sight as the country requires sustained expenditure of almost $14.2 billion per year over the next decade, or about 12 percent of its GDP, to close this gap.
The country also needs to spend about $10.5 billion to fix federal infrastructure alone, especially power, as against its current expenditure of about $5.9 billion per year on federal infrastructure, which is equivalent to about 5 percent of its GDP.
These revelations were contained in a keynote address delivered by Oby Ezekwesili, former minister of education and former World Bank vice president for Africa, at the just concluded four-day conference organised by Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
Ezekwesili recalled that China spent about 15 percent of its GDP on just infrastructure investment in the mid-2000s, pointing out that infrastructure inadequacy makes a country’s business environment non-competitive compared with other countries.
According to her, in Nigeria, indirect costs borne by firms to fill infrastructure gap amount to 15 percent while in China it is 5 percent, India 10 percent and only 2 percent in Turkey.
The former minister, who spoke on ‘Infrastructure Development and Economic Empowerment,’ recommended that government must innovate on policy solutions that rapidly expand economy to absorb unemployed youths.
“Policy solutions and investments will include removing barriers on the supply and demand side issues; quality and relevant skills-based education, and better investment in infrastructure,” she added.
To her, economic growth without jobs is a source of deeper inequalities that create social tensions, pointing out that two million Nigerian youths join the labour market annually.
For accelerated infrastructure development, she suggested sound macro-economic policies to enhance stability and reduce uncertainty of price levels.
She added that there should be a national integrated infrastructure strategic planning model, and an effective legal and regulatory frameworks, clarifying rules, roles
and incentives for government and private sector, especially PPP legislation and framework.
She tasked NIESV and its members on analytical evaluation of infrastructure gap at different levels of possible intervention; professional integrity; demand for accountability and results for all public investment in infrastructure, and promoting public private investments in infrastructure solutions.
Earlier in his welcome address, Emeka Eleh, the NIESV president, had disclosed that “infrastructure deficit in the country runs into trillions of naira,” adding that addressing the deficit was crucial to the nation’s development.
“Investment in this sector has the potential to generate multiplier effects in the economy and will impact positively on our unemployment and poverty levels, productivity, prices of goods and services and even housing,” he said.
He canvassed for management of existing infrastructure, noting that lack of appropriate maintenance of existing infrastructure was costing the nation immensely, saying “more often than not, our infrastructure is left to deteriorate considerably before attempt is made at repairs due to lack of appropriate maintenance processes.”
Also in his address at the conference, President Goodluck Jonathan highlighted the importance of infrastructure in economic development, stressing that the success of the transformation agenda of his government depended on infrastructure development.
The president, who was represented at the conference by Mike Onolememen, minister of works, said “the importance of infrastructure to national development cannot be over-emphasised; it is at the core of good governance and public welfare.”
L-R: Mike Onolememen, minister of works representing The President; Emeka Eleh, NIESV president, and Oby Ezekwesili, keynote speaker at the NIESV annual conference in Benin City, Edo State capital recently.
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