By Favour Nnabugwu

Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen has identified investment in physical infrastructure, such as roads, houses, power and water as essential for the growth of the economic growth of Africa.

Onolememen, an architect, said that infrastructure development and economic growth are mutually reinforcing, as infrastructure development plays a vital role in wealth creation.

The Minister who spoke in Abuja on “Funding Infrastructure Development in Africa: Nigeria As a Case Study” also identified good infrastructure as “critical to the overall development of the Nigerian economy, which in turn impacts the standard of living of Nigerians”.

The Minister said the infrastructure deficit is large and affects every sector and investment in the road sector alone requires at least construction of 14,000 kilometres of new roads annually for the next seven years, apart from maintaining and rehabilitating the existing network as a matter of routine.These, according to him, will require the average annual expenditure on roads to increase seven fold to nearly N750billion.

Onolememen explained that in view of central place that infrastructure development occupies in President Jonathan quest to transform the nation, the country has just completed the development of a National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan, which requires tens of trillions of naira to implement.

Government alone, he stated, cannot fund this huge portfolio due to the limited financial resources available and against the backdrop of current global financial tightening and increased competition for available infrastructure funds; thus government is exploring new ways of bridging the infrastructure funding gap.

In order to attract private finance, the  Federal Government, he said, took steps not only to ensure that direct foreign investments, DFIs and Public Private Partnerships PPPs thrive in the development of infrastructure and the real sector in the country.

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