‘Nigeria needs $11trn to bridge infrastructure gap’

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President of Association of Consulting Engineers of Nigeria (ACEN), Ajibade Oke, has said Nigeria needs about $11 trillion to reach its full potential in infrastructure.

Speaking, yesterday, at the opening of the 28th Annual FIDIC Africa Infrastructure Conference, themed, ‘Infrastructure Development in Africa’, Oke said the increasing population in Africa places burden on countries, including Nigeria, necessitating continued investment in socio-economic infrastructure.

According to him, “there will always be need for infrastructural development as population increases. This phenomenon is more apparent in Africa where population increases geometrically.

“Unfortunately, Africa has added disadvantage of needing to catch up with the rest of the world. Nigeria needs about $11 trillion to get adequate infrastructure and also meet up with the rest of the world. The world will not wait for Africa. We need to double up.”

Oke, who said hosting of the conference in Nigeria for the third time was significant in the light of global recovery from COVID-19, said infrastructure development is strategic to efforts at reflating the national economy.

Also speaking at the conference, Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, alongside professional engineers and experts, lamented poor infrastructure in many African countries.

They noted that infrastructure deficit in sub-Saharan Africa is exacerbated by low investment and poor funding and called on governments to give attention to provision of critical socio-economic infrastructure that could catalyse growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and stimulate prosperity.

They harped the need for government to take advantage of public-private partnership financing, saying private sector funding will accelerate delivery of long-term infrastructure, bolster availability of services to people and create more jobs.

Sanwo-Olu, represented by Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure, (Mrs.) Aramide Adeyoye, said without adequate and quality infrastructure, it would be difficult to create jobs, especially for the growing youth population, and decent living standards for the people.

He said the state government has consistently accorded priority to infrastructure development and renewal to build a stronger economic base, in line with the status of Lagos State as Africa’s fastest growing megacity.

President, International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) Africa, Kabelo Motswagole, stated that the theme of the conference is apt and auspicious at a time most governments in Africa are looking for alternative ways of funding infrastructure development and maintenance.

According to him, “This is particularly so, as the COVID-19 pandemic expenditure depleted most countries’ development budgets.”

Motswagole added that issues of sustainability and resilient infrastructure are important to consulting engineers, therefore the conference is expected to generate solutions and useful resources that could help government in addressing challenges of infrastructure.

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