Nigeria has Made Moderate Progress in Infrastructure Development—Akinwuntan

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By Sodeinde Temidayo David

Nigeria has recorded moderate progress in infrastructure development and more can still be achieved if there is a strong synergy between financial institutions and private investors, the Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, has submitted.

Speaking at the Nigerian Institute for Transport Technology (NITT) 2021 Transport Technology Conference in Abuja, the bank said the infrastructure gap in the country can still be bridged if both the financial firms and the private sector come together.

In his presentation titled Transportation infrastructure development financing in Nigeria, Mr Akinwuntan noted that given the bulk of activities across the infrastructure project lifecycle in Nigeria, there was a need for a synergy between the private sector who are major project sponsors and financial institutions in harnessing the desired value across the ecosystem.

He stressed that there is limited productivity in the transport sector when compared to other sectors and regions, explaining that the attractiveness of the transport sector must be compelling to attract the required funding.

According to him, there is high investors’ appetite for Africa as 72 per cent of available funds for African infrastructure investment are from the private sector.

He also lamented that private sector involvement in infrastructure development was constrained by a selection of low-impact projects, weak feasibility study and business plan, delays in obtaining licenses, approvals and permits, and inability to secure guarantees.

Mr Akinwuntan said the government in partnership with the private sector recently launched Infra-co, an infrastructure company with an initial seed capital of N1 trillion and is expected to grow its capital and assets to N15 trillion over time to fund public projects like roads, rails, and power.

“The start-up funding will come from the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria), the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, and the Africa Finance Corporation. Governance, operations, returns and valuation to be driven by global best practices. This is definitely a step in the right direction.

“Also, the Nigerian Banking industry has been showing consistent support for the transport and construction sector, evidenced by continuous growth in credit allocation,” he added.

As stated by the Ecobank boss, the major sources that have served transportation infrastructure funds include green bond pools, Diaspora Naijaworld Infrastructure Bonds, technology and telecoms through a right of way international chains/brands funds.

He also shared selected Ecobank infrastructure participation success stories across the continent such as Asky Airlines, the multinational passenger airline serving west and central Africa; road infrastructure in Cote d’ Ivoire; port infrastructure in Ghana; telecommunications Infrastructure in Senegal and power infrastructure in Cameroon, among others.

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