News Column

Budgets Alone Can't Fund Infrastructure - Jonathan

June 16, 2014

Isiaka Wakili

President Goodluck Jonathan says Africa could no longer depend solely on budgetary resources to fund infrastructure development.

Jonathan, who said his administration was mobilising domestic financial resources for infrastructure development, cited the Sovereign Wealth Fund, the pension funds, the issuance of dedicated infrastructure bonds, the establishment and capitalisation of the Infrastructure Bank and the use of Public-Private Partnerships.

Speaking over the weekend in Dakar, Senegal, at the commencement of the African Union's Summit on Financing Infrastructure Development, Jonathan noted that the summit was aimed at drawing from other countries' experiences to identify various ways of mobilising the needed funds to fix the continent's infrastructure gap.

The summit, themed "Leveraging Public-Private Partnerships for Continental Infrastructure Transformation", was convened by Senegalese President Macky Sall and chairperson of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee.

Jonathan said in spite of all these, Nigeria was facing some challenges which, according to him, include inadequate technical expertise.

"At the regional and continental levels, the difference in legal and regulatory systems and standards across countries is also an issue. We're well positioned to take specific measures to address these challenges. Our economic fundamentals are strong. The performance of our stock market is among the best globally. The yields and prices of our domestic and foreign bonds are favourable. Going forward, the experiences that'll be shared by different countries at this summit and lessons learned from the deliberations and panel discussions should provide key inputs into the planning, design and implementation of future infrastructure projects," he said.

He said apart from exploiting innovative ways to attract private sector participation, Nigeria would also strengthen and expand regulatory and legal frameworks to encourage the development of local consortia to take on big-ticket projects.

Also speaking, Executive Director, Africa Business Roundtable and NEPAD Business Group, Dotun Ajayi, said though Africa's future was promising, the infrastructure gap must be closed, adding that "we must come up with innovative funding mechanism for infrastructure. Because it is enormous, the responsibility should be a shared one. The road may be long and challenging but it is a road we must trek. The challenge is huge but it is not insurmountable."

On his part, the Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Carlos Lopes, said it is important for Africa to take up the responsibility of financing its own infrastructure aside from external funding.

While Malian President Ibrahim Keita lamented that Africa was lagging behind in infrastructure development, his counterpart from Benin Republic, Boni Yayi, noted that there could be no development without infrastructure development which, he said, should be regarded as a collective responsibility.

Meanwhile, World Bank and African Development Bank have commended Nigeria over the successful completion of the privatisation of her power sector.

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Source: AllAfrica

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