The N15 trillion (about $36.5bn) Infrastructure Company Limited (InfraCo), created by Nigeria’s federal government to bridge the nation’s huge infrastructure gap is to take off in the third quarter of the year, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said.
Emefiele spoke Tuesday at an investors’ webinar designed to showcase the investment opportunities in Nigeria’s privatisation and economic reforms programmes, organised by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) in collaboration with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX).
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo also said at the event that although the government’s economic reforms had paid off in telecommunications, pension and maritime sectors, the current administration was making efforts to address the challenges in the power sector privatisation.
Investors in the N15 trillion InfraCo include the CBN, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC).
In his goodwill message at the webinar, Emefiele said the federal government had approved KPMG as the financial adviser to InfraCo, adding that the firm is expected to commence operations in the third quarter of 2021.
He stated that for Nigeria to attain meaningful growth, there must be huge investments in key sectors of the economy, including infrastructure such as rail and power, among others.
According to him, InfraCo has generated huge interest in deploying private capital to for infrastructure, adding that the approval of the vice president has been secured to appoint KPMG as transaction advisers.
Emefiele stated that over the past 18 months, the COVID-19 pandemic and developments in the global crude oil market had created negatively affected not only the global economy but also the Nigerian economy.
He added: “For Nigeria, we witnessed a drop in foreign exchange earnings, government revenues along with supply chain disruptions which ultimately led to the economy falling into a recession during the third quarter of 2020. Significant interventions by the monetary and fiscal authorities in key sectors of our economy such as in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors eventually helped and led to the rebound of growth during the fourth quarter of 2020 as gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.11 per cent.
“The sustenance of these measures have also helped to support growth of 0.51 per cent during the first quarter of 2021. Nonetheless, we consider this growth as fragile and therefore seek the support of those of us here at this webinar to continue to work with us to grow our economy.”
He stated that in June 2021, investments in the Importers and Exporters (I&E) window stood at over N3 trillion at an average rate of N412 to the dollar, adding that this meant that on an average working day of 20 working days, close to $150 million was posted in that market.
In their goodwill messages, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said Nigeria had huge gas investment potential waiting to be exploited.
She stated that despite the numerous challenges confronting the country, it still remains the premium investment destination in Africa.
Ahmed said the COVID-19 pandemic had provided greater need for the federal government to forge a more robust partnership with the private sector.
In his keynote address, Osinbajo said the investors’ webinar was organised to showcase investment opportunities arising from Nigerians economic reforms and privatisation activities.
He said: ” I think that many who have observed the current Nigerian government would agree with me that an article of faith for this government is the importance of mobilising private capital and participation for improving efficiency and driving economic growth and this really explains why we have this collaboration today between the Bureau of Public Enterprises (which you know is in charge of our sectoral reform programme) with the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission and the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX) to host this seminar as an important platform drawing attention to investment opportunities to both our local and foreign friends and collaborators.”
According to him, privatising utilities of the size of the former PHCN simply calls for deeper intentional consideration of the right models and the right type of investors and also looking at funding for these investors over an extended period of time.
“These are some of the challenges that we have seen, but I think that it’s an excellent lesson and there is so much that we are learning in approaching privatisation, especially our utilities, going forward,” he said.
Earlier in his welcome, address, the BPE Director-General, Mr. Alex Okoh, said the BPE had listed over 36 assets for sale and giving them out to concessionaires under its 2021 work plan.
He stated that about N500 billion is expected to be contributed into the federal government coffers from the privatisation proceeds this year.
According to him, 234 public assets have been sold in the last 32 years while N1 trillion was generated by the agency.