Written by Sarah NEGEDU

AfDB devise strategies to bridge Nigeria’s infrastructure gap

The Africa  Development Bank, AfDB, has said it will assist Nigeria put together an array of bankable projects that would help bridge the county’s infrastructure gap in the shortest possible time.

This is part of a $130billion infrastructure financing mechanism meant to stir Nigeria and other African countries towards fast racking the sustainable development goal. Nigeria alone is said to require an estimated $3trillion to bridge its infrastructure gap in the next 26 years.

According to the lender, the plan will take full shape at the African Investment Forum, AIF, scheduled to hold in Johannesburg, South Africa in November.

Speaking at the AIF Road show held recently in Abuja, the Senior Director, AfDB Nigeria, Mr. Ebrima Faal, said the AIF idea came from the reality that the government alone could not finance the infrastructure gap in the country.

“Over the last decade, and despite impressive growth rates in most of the continent, Africa’s infrastructure needs remain formidable with annual financing gap between $130billion and $107billion annually.

“Nigeria’s infrastructure cumulative financing needs are estimated to reach $3trillion by 2044 or about $100billion annually. This is all happening at a time when public sector finances are extremely pressured.

To this end, Faal said there is a critical need to change the current funding mix and create partnerships to finance infrastructure and other projects in Africa.

He said the bank will galvanise private sector funds and other development partners to handle infrastructure projects that have been verified by the bank and approved by the respective countries.

Some of the projects selected for funding in Nigeria under the new plan are the Abuja Integrated Infrastructure Project, otherwise known as the Satellite Towns, and the Bus Rapid Transit and the Eko Atlantic City project in Lagos.

He said the new funding mechanism had become imperative given that Overseas Development Assistance, ODA, had become unpredictable, encumbered and decreasing.

According to him, whereas in the past, the ODA accounted for about $6billion or 15 percent of the financing of infrastructure, the amount has been declining and has become more unpredictable.

Also, a Senior Director at the AfDB in charge of the African Investment Forum, Ms Stella Kilonzo, said through the forum, the bank aimed to de-risk investments in Africa.

Kilonzo said the bank would fast track the Sustainable Development Goals by developing bankable projects in the agricultural, energy and infrastructure sectors, among others in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Senior Special Assistant to the President and Coordinator, Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, Mr Folarin Alayande, commended the AfDB for seeking alternative funding for infrastructure development in Nigeria and Africa in general.

He said the Federal Government had identified key priority projects that would spur sustainable growth in the country.

Alayande noted that to deliver fast results on mobilising private investments and job creation, the investment focus of the country was in the areas of agriculture and transportation, manufacturing and processing, power and gas supply.

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