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How Nigeria can close $3trn infrastructure gap -Almona

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THE newly-appointed Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Chinyere Almona has proposed ways Nigeria can bridge its huge infrastructure gap estimated at $3 trillion.

In an interview with The ICIR, Almona said governments at both federal and state levels must first conduct an official identification of national assets in terms of location, purpose and usage, with a view to producing a national asset register.

Almona said that Nigeria is an asset-rich nation with hundreds of large state-owned companies, valuable parcels of land, and built structures in prime commercial locations.


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She noted that these assets were grossly underutilised,  contributing too little to the country’s fiscal and financial situation because their market values were currently not known.

“There is, therefore, a need for government to take urgent steps to establish the market values of the assets, securitise the corporate assets and commercialise the real estate assets to raise revenue for the government and foreign exchange inflows for the country,” she suggested.

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She said there was also a need to replace existing debt stocks with asset-linked debt to ease the debt servicing burden, attract greenfield Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into publicly listed state-owned companies, and generate new revenue streams from commercialised real estate portfolios.

“There are four types of assets namely: corporate assets such as refineries, state-owned enterprises; physical assets such as government land and built structures; intangible assets such as the GSM licensing and pension funds; and human capital which is a national pool of high-return skills. An asset register that provides detailed information about Nigeria’s assets at national, state, and local government levels must be created,” the LCCI DG urged.

“Secondly, government must determine the worth of these assets. Corporate assets should be securitised via public share issuance to raise equities. A typical example is Saudi Aramco’s IPO of 2019 where $25.6 billion was raised after the oil firm sold a 1.5 per cent stake to private investors, thereby establishing the value of Aramco to be over $2 trillion,” she said.

She said physical assets such as idle or under-utilised properties could be repurposed and redeveloped for commercialisation to generate revenue. Typical examples, according to her,  were what the United Kingdom did with its inner-city prisons and the United States’ conversion of military bases into commercial places through the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), creating a separate agency to manage its thousands of real estate portfolios.

A report by the Moody’s Investors Services said Nigeria must invest $3 trillion in the next 30 years to close a huge infrastructure gap. Roads in many parts of Nigeria are decrepit and power outages are common.

Railways are at an inchoate stage and technology is concentrated mostly in urban areas.

Almona opined that there was a need to break government monopoly in the infrastructure sector, saying that railways, pipelines and power transmission should be liberalised for investors to commit equity funds into them.

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“A typical example was the liberalisation of the telecoms sector that incentivised investors to purchase GSM licenses,” she noted.

In human capital, Almona said Nigeria must make massive investment in skill and talent development to increase the pool of the country’s human capital.

“The financialisation of Nigeria’s human assets will boost net foreign income and remittance inflows into the economy. A typical example is how the Philippines is training its doctors, nurses, technicians, to enable them to export their services to foreign countries.”

 

Blessing Otoibhi is a Multimedia Journalist and Anchor host for the News in 60 seconds at The International Center For Investigative Reporting. You can shoot her a mail via [email protected] or connect on Twitter @B_otoibhi

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1 COMMENT

  1. Hmmmmn! Very soon Baba will inaugurate the National Asset Register Commission ( NARC) headed by one aboki just for that purpose and after which the commission will become redundant, drawing on a yearly budget to pay non existent workers, awarding contracts etc etc. The cycle goes on and on and on and on and on …..

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