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Nigeria needs $11trn to close infrastructure gap – Engineers

AFRICA’s infrastructure challenge again came to the fore at the annual conference of consulting engineers in the state, with the Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, professional engineers, experts and other stakeholders advocating increased investment in the provision of infrastructure to foster real growth and economic prosperity in the continent.

This is even as the Association for Consulting Engineering in Nigeria (ACEN) made a fresh disclosure that about $11 trillion would be required to close the infrastructure gap in the critical sectors of the Nigerian economy.

Sanwo-Olu alongside the professional engineers and experts spoke at the opening of the 28th Annual FIDIC Africa Infrastructure Conference with the theme, ‘Infrastructure Development in Africa’, holding at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island.

While lamenting the dearth of or poor infrastructure in many African countries as one of the drawbacks for achieving meaningful growth in many countries, the speakers noted that infrastructure deficit in sub Sahara Africa was exacerbated by low investment and poor funding.

They called on government across Africa to give attention to the provision of critical socio-economic infrastructure that could catalyse growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and stimulate prosperity.

Cross section of experts and speakers harped on the need for government to take advantage of the public-private partnership financing model, saying private sector funding would accelerate the delivery of long-term infrastructure, bolster availability of services to the people as well as help create more jobs.

Sanwo-Olu in his keynote speech decried lack of infrastructure as one of the factors inhibiting Africa from realising its full potential.

He said, “As the theme of this year’s conference, ‘Infrastructure Development in Africa’, connotes, you have dedicated this edition of your conference towards reawakening us a individuals, private organisations and as government to raise awareness about the critical role infrastructure plays in sustainable socio-economic development especially in a fast-growing and highly competitive global economy in the 21st century.

“This theme is particularly relevant because lack of adequate infrastructure has been identified as one of the key factors responsible for the inability of Africa to realise her full economic potentials despite being generously endowed I natural resources.”

Represented by his Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye, the governor further noted that, without adequate and quality infrastructure, it would be difficult to create jobs especially for the growing youth population and create decent and comfortable living standards for the people.

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

President of ACEN, Engr. Ajibade Oke, in an address to the participants at the two-day conference, said increasing population in Africa especially places the burden on countries in Africa including Nigeria to continue to invest in socio-economic infrastructure.

“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 dollars to get adequate infrastructure and to also meet up with the rest of the world The world will not wait for Africa. We need to double up,” he stated.

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

President, International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) Africa, Engr. Kabelo Motswagole, stated that the conference theme was 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 were important to consulting engineers; therefore the conference was expected to generate solutions and useful resources that could help government in addressing the challenges of infrastructure.

The two-day 28th Annual FIDIC Africa Infrastructure Conference is being attended by top government functionaries including representatives of the federal and state governments, participants from members across 18 national member associations including ACEN from Nigeria as well as corporate organisations.

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