By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
ABUJA—The nation’s infrastructure deficit could be quickly addressed if the Federal Government provides well-articulated guidelines and enabling environment to attract private capital through the Public Private Partnership, PPP, strategy, the World Bank has said.
World Bank Senior Director, Infrastructure, PPP and Guarantees Group, Laurance Carter and the bank’s Country Director in Nigeria, Rachid Benmessaoud, who canvassed these positions at the launch of Improving Accountability and Transparency in Public Private Contracts, Country Diagnostic Report, Disclosure Framework and Disclosure Web Portal, in Abuja, last weekend, said about 50 PPP projects in the country had not met their objectives because they were rather put together hastily.
Olufunke Olufon, the bank’s spokesperson in Abuja, captured their positions thus: “Despite an uptick in PPP projects in Nigeria, there are about 50 being implemented right now and another 60 in development.
“Many have not lived up to their potential. Some were pushed too hastily and were poorly structured; several are now mired in disputes. The underlying causes are complex.
“In June, private sector representatives listed the main issues during a visit to Lagos by Joaquim Levy, the World Bank Group’s CFO. They said Nigerian laws and regulations governing PPPs are not clear and that key stakeholders need more knowledge to plan, structure, and implement complex PPPs.
“It’s time to get this right, as demand for infrastructure is growing at an unprecedented rate. The link between economic growth and infrastructure is well-established. Any country that wants a robust economy and create jobs must stay on top of its infrastructure and related services.
‘’At the same time, we know that governments simply cannot afford to finance all infrastructure costs from the budget. This is in no way a challenge unique to Nigeria.
“This means there is a huge scope, and need, for service provision through PPPs. When designed well and implemented in a balanced regulatory environment, PPPs can leverage scarce public funding and introduce private sector technology and innovation to public services.
‘’They can also bring efficiency and sustainability, while allocating risk between the public and private actors based on their capacity to manage it.
“The government’s role is to create enabling conditions for private sector investors, and at the same time ensure that the needs of citizens are met. Sector reforms can help. Building a legal and institutional framework to support robust project preparation, tender processes, and contract management is another important element.
“From our side, the World Bank Group is prepared to partner even more strongly with Nigeria to increase its ability to build an enabling environment for PPPs and a robust pipeline in key sectors to attract more investors.’’