*We shall close up on Africa’s infrastructure deficit
By Sandra Onyekwere
Leading African public officials, hundreds of business Executives and influential business administrators on Tuesday called for accelerated action to bridge the gap in the Africa’s infrastructure deficit as part of critical measures required to guarantee improved economic growth for the continent. The call was made at the African Infrastructural summit organised by the African Finance Corporation (AFC).
At the second day of Africa’s premier infrastructure summit in Abuja, Nigeria’s Acting President Yemi Osinbajo implored private sector players to help relieve Africa from its infrastructure crisis, which experts have long identified as one of the major stumbling blocks to the continent’s economic growth.
“There is no question at all that all of what we required, all of what is needed will not be provided just by government,” Prof Osinbajo said at the two-day event held to mark the 10th anniversary of Africa Finance Corporation.
“As a matter of fact, without the private sector, it is completely impossible for government to even finance current infrastructure needs.”
Investment analysts on the continent hold that its inhabitants could witness spontaneous economic successes if anything can be done to address an estimated $90 billion in infrastructure deficit.
Nigeria’s acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, submitted that the role of private sector in helping Africa address its critical needs surpasses the capacity of government institutions.
Osinbajo, a Professor of Law said while delivering his keynote speech themed: ‘Infrastructure Revolution’ quipped “there is no question at all that government cannot simply compare with the power of the private sector and with the resources that the private sector can pull together,”
Olusegun Obasanjo: The event drew many top current and former public and private sector officials from different sectors (except sports) across Africa, including former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who praised the exploits of AFC over the past 10 years while expressing optimism about its future.
The AFC is an international, for profit investment grade multilateral finance institution established to bridge Africa’s significant infrastructure gap.
The AFC, which was established in 2007 by Chief Obasanjo’s administration, has raised $3.5 billion as at the end of last year, while declaring a profit of $150 million to shareholders, its President and CEO, Andrew Alli, said in a previous statement.
Its debut $750 million Eurobond issue was oversubscribed six times. And it currently maintains presence in 13 African countries including Nigeria (host country), Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Liberia, Guinea, Ghana, Chad, Cape Verde, Uganda, Rwanda, Gabon and Djibouti.
Chief Obasanjo expressed confidence in the ability of AFC executives to position the investment firm at the forefront of African infrastructure rebirth.
“If all things go well, I see an AFC that would have triple or quadruple its investment in infrastructure in Africa. I see an AFC that would become a household name everywhere in Africa. I see an AFC that would be competing, or if you like complementing, the World Bank’s equivalent —which is IFC— if not overtaken it.”
The former president urged the AFC to sustain its current exploits in order not to derail like many other African initiatives.
“In Africa, we start things right but we don’t continue to do them right,” he said.
Chief Obasanjo was joined in his call by Prof Charles Soludo, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) who was also the first chairman of AFC, and Tony Elumelu, a former CEO of United Bank for Africa and chairman of Heirs Holdings.
The duo participated in a panel discussion with Chief Obasanjo, during which they expressed optimism about growth in African infrastructure.
Andrew Alli: African Finance Corporation has revealed that investors showcased 12 commercial projects that require up to $13 billion investment.
The projects were presented by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); the German Development Agency (GIZ); Black Lion Holding, a strategic advisory firm; and Petrolin Group, an international petroleum group.
“In 2014 we held our inaugural African infrastructure summit, bringing together our expertise, knowledge and experience in infrastructure financing,” said Andrew Alli, President and CEO of the AFC.
“In 2017, as we celebrate 10 years of activity, we will focus on deal-making, with a view to leveraging public-private partnerships for continental infrastructure transformation.”
A recent UN report says out of the $2 trillion raised globally for infrastructure projects, only $59 billion was received in Africa, representing just 3 percent. By bringing financiers and investors alongside project developers and fund managers, AFC’s summit aims to ensure that more capital, both African and international, can be deployed towards addressing Africa’s pressing infrastructure needs.
One of the projects presented at the AFC Live 2017 is Petrolin’s Backbone Project – which includes a rail line to be built on existing networks, linking Cotonou (Benin) to Parakou (Benin), to Dosso (Niger) and to Niamey (Niger) for a total 1,032 kilometres.
The project also includes a new dry port, a new deep water port, a new international airport and related infrastructure (schools, universities, health centres, and tourism areas) in Benin.
“The core of our business strategy is to use our international strength to bring on board first class international companies and, more importantly, to involve local indigenous partners and investors to associate them to the development of the sub-region,” said Samuel Dossou-Aworet, Founding Chairman of Petrolin Group.
The list of top Executives at the event included Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, President of Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE); Samuel Dossou-Aworet, Founder and Chairman of Petrolin Group; Kunle Elebute, Country Managing Partner at KPMG and Jay Ireland, President and CEO, General Electric Africa.
Government officials present at the event included Raji Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing; Godwin Emefiele, Governor, CBN and Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance.