Lafarge Forum Explores Ideas for Upscaling Infrastructure Finance

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020 / 3:00 PM / Nifemi Taiyese for Proshare WebTV / Header Image Credit: WebTV


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Policymakers, experts and stakeholders in the Nigerian economy agreed that the implementation of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) across areas like infrastructure must be strategic and innovative.

 

This was part of the key takeaways from the Lafarge organized inaugural session of its 'Concrete Ideas' series themed "Public-Private Partnership Approaches to Rapidly Upscaling Nigeria's Economic Infrastructure".

 

The CEO, Lafarge Africa Khaled El-Dokani in his welcome address said the concrete ideas initiative of the company will become a quarterly platform, that will foster strategic ideas and discussions. This initiative, the first of its kind, will catalyze the attainment of commercial success within the sector, he noted.


El-Dokani highlighted that the concrete ideas webinar series has come at a crucial time since the COVID-19 pandemic has put severe pressure on the Nigerian economy.


According to him the 'Concrete Ideas' series, was designed to chart a new course and move the Nigerian economy ahead. 


Mr. Adebode Adefioye Chairman Lafarge Africa, in his remarks said the conversations under the 'Concrete ideas' webinar will focus on how to deepen PPP transactions.


The Chairman of Lafarge Africa said, "For people to progress in society, they must think and co-operate".

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Mr. Miljan Gutovic Head, MEA Operations, Lafarge Holcim in his keynote said the webinar was apt, given the fact that Nigeria is one country in dire need of infrastructure projects.


He emphasized the fact that Lafarge Holcim provides tailor-made solutions to drive a sustainable ecosystem, and is widely known for appropriate and innovative products and services to customers.


More mature and developed countries have been at the forefront of PPPs and to that end in the coming years, "Nigeria needs to invest heavily in road infrastructure" Miljan Gutovic said.


Gutovic was of the view that Nigeria needs to develop a solid legal framework to accommodate PPPs, as they can be profitable and sustainable in the long run.   


He stressed that infrastructure was not only about road projects but other segments such as energy and power plants. 


Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, the Honorable Minister of Works and Housing who was the Special Guest of Honor, in his presentation said developed countries have invested heavily in their infrastructure.


Demystifying the concept, Mr. Fashola described the model of PPPs as investments that entail the availability and mobility of capital.  


Fashola admitted that the infrastructure gap in Nigeria is a result of a significant drop in investments and a growth of the population, which is why he brought to the fore the commitment to renew, rebuild and increase the stock of the nation's current infrastructure.


Speaking further he said PPPs form part of government financing and development plans but emphasized the need to develop smart financial modelling and properly designed and negotiated transaction contracts and funding arrangements.


Considering the global economic realities, the Works and Housing Minister highlighted the options that private capital offers and what to expect. These include;

 
  • It offers the opportunity to manage and complete existing road projects and
  • It offers opportunities for fresh farm produce into a much more bespoke environment


He brought to the fore the need to understand the difference between government objective and private objective and also social infrastructure assets and commercial infrastructure assets.


"The profit of government is measured by the general well-being and prosperity of its people with the local economy being largely driven by 80% of MSMEs," Babatunde Fashola said. 


He added "Across the world, governments are trying to save their private sector and Nigeria is not exempt from that in today's reality. Due to the pandemic outbreak of COVID19, PPPs in some parts of the world were halted but in Nigeria, the PPPs that have been negotiated and commenced are still viable and ongoing. This has also changed the realities and dynamics of some PPPs in other parts of the world".


The Minister emphasized the need to understand the role that the private sector plays within the parameters of commercialization. From research and reports credited to multi-lateral institutions like the World Bank have validated that infrastructure, helps to eradicate poverty as it is a legitimate way to distribute wealth.


Alhaji Lamis Dikko Chairman, The Infrastructure Bank Plc. pointed out that other areas in Nigeria require the attention of PPPs such as project presentations.


For him designing the appropriate framework to promote PPPs need to be done at the federal level. He advocated for aggressive public awareness programs from the government and private sector around PPPs.


Mr. Bismarck J. Rewane, CEO, Financial Derivatives Co. Ltd. reiterated the need for Nigeria to embark on projects and plans that will translate to productivity. He acknowledged the fact that return on investment satisfies store of value, and advocated maximum national savings, stating that it was an opportunity for Nigeria to optimize investments.


The CEO of Chapelhill Denham Mr. Mobolaji Balogun CEO informed stakeholders that several realities have to be recognized in Nigeria. According to him the amount going into infrastructure is less than 2%.


He said there is a need for Nigeria to successfully finance infrastructure in a way that it can achieve optimal productivity.


"Markets have an incredible way of regulating themselves, and the big opportunity is to deal with competition," Bolaji Balogun said.


The panel session featuring economic experts was moderated by Mr. Frank Aigbogun Publisher/Co-founder, BusinessDay Newspaper.


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