By Peter Uzoho
The President and Founder, Anap Foundation, Mr. Atedo Peterside, has outlined factors responsible for non-take-off of concessioning and other forms of public-private-partnership (PPP) models that ought to have accelerated infrastructure development in Nigeria.
Presenting a paper on, “Increasing Portfolio Flows: Privatization, Concessioning and Direct Investment as a Strategy for Sustainable Economic Growth,” at the November edition of the Lagos Business School (LBS) breakfast meeting recently, Peterside said one of such reasons was the federal government’s preference for Chinese loans.
He listed other factors as lack of political will, corrupt officials, dysfunctional legal system, and the failure to de-risk projects to facilitate pension fund participation.
He also listed the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) willingness to print more naira for the federal government and financial repression, as part of the reasons for the delay of concessioning and other PPP projects in the country.
Peterside expressed worry that Nigeria was not among the fastest growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa by percentage growth.
On the efforts made in the area of privatisation, he said Nigeria completed some “big deals” between 2011 and 2015, including the privatisation of all the 11 electricity distribution companies.
He said almost all the power generation companies were privatised, adding that Nitel was liquidated and its assets sold off.
He, however, observed that there has been some years of inactivity in the privatisation business, saying no big deals were done since 2016.
Dwelling on direct investment as a strategy for sustainable economic growth, Peterside said investment activity was curtailed due to rising insecurity and lack of level playing field.
Other reasons for the curtailed investment activity in the country, according Peterside, are the rigging of the economy in favour of the well-connected; too many rogue regulators, with the #ENDSARS as the tip of an Iceberg.
He listed others as the threatened macroeconomic stability, high inflation rate in addition to foreign exchange market distortions, dysfunctional legal system plus lack of sanctity of contracts.
He future mentioned government’s competition to issue direct contracts for most viable infrastructure projects that could have gone the PPP route, citing the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway as a case in point.
He equally listed the faulty arrangement in which PPP operates on the fringe, few success stories; Lekki Deep Sea Port and other Deep-Water Ports. On the way forward, the business mogul emphasised the need for better leaders, having political will, reforming the legal system with the eliminate spurious injunctions like The Philippines did.
Peterside also called for the de-risking of infrastructure projects in the country, so that pension funds could participate.
According to him, “Ongoing struggle for the soul of the nation; will more people speak up? Agenda 2050 is about the Nigeria of our dreams; whose dream?
Restructure that Dinner Table: The Big Picture #ENDSARS.”