W'Bank, ADB commend Nigeria's power sector privatisation

By The Citizen

World Bank on Sunday lauded the Federal Government on the successful completion of the power sector privatisation, urging other African countries to borrow a leaf from the exercise.

The African Development Bank also commended the present administration for investing proceeds from partial removal of fuel subsidy on infrastructure development among other sectors.

The commendations came at the opening session of the African Union's Summit on Financing Infrastructure Development held in Dakar, Senegal.

The summit with the theme, 'Leveraging Public-Private Partnerships for continental infrastructure transformation' was convened by President Macky Sall of the Republic of Senegal and Chairperson of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee.

The Vice President Africa, World Bank, Mr. Mukhtar Diop, while listing some infrastructure achievements across Africa commended the Federal Government for the successful privatisation of the private sector in Nigeria.

He described what he called the electric reforms as one of the ways of solving Africa's problems by Africans.

'We must commend the leadership in Nigeria for the successful completion of the privatisation of the country's power sector. The electric reforms in that country is one of the ways of solving Africa's problems by Africans. We commend the country for that,' Diop said.

The President, African Development Bank Group, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, on his part commended President Goodluck Jonathan for the partial removal of subsidy and for using the money saved on infrastructure and education among others.

He said, 'A lot still needs to be done. Energy has remained the main problem in almost all the African countries.

'We however commended President Goodluck Jonathan for the partial removal of subsidy and using the saved fundon education, infrastructure etc.

'We urge other African leaders to borrow a leaf from him in this regard.'

Jonathan, in his remarks, said the continent could no longer rely solely on budgetary resources to finance the development of infrastructure.

He said the summit was meant to draw from country experiences to identify various ways of mobilising financial resources required to fix Africa's infrastructure gap.

The President said in Nigeria, his administration was mobilising domestic financial resources for infrastructure development.

He named some examples of such techniques to include the Sovereign Wealth Fund, Pension Funds, issuance of Dedicated Infrastructure Bonds, establishment and capitalisation of the Infrastructure Bank and the use of Public Private Partnerships.

Despite these however, Jonathan said the country was facing some challenges including inadequate technical expertise.

He said, 'At the regional and continental level, the difference in legal and regulatory systems and standards across countries is also an issue. We are well positioned to take specific measures to address these challenges.

'Our economic fundamentals are strong. The performance of our shock market is among the best globally. The yields and prices of our domestic and foreign bonds are favourable.

'Going forward, the experiences that will be shared by different countries at this summit and lessons learned from the deliberations and panel discussions should provide key inputs into the planning, design and implementation of future infrastructure projects.'

Jonathan said to scale up and achieve success, projects would require proper planning and funding.

He said Nigeria would exploit innovative ways to attract private sector participation and would further strengthen and expand enabling regulatory and legal frameworks to encourage the development of local consortia to take on big-ticket projects.

The Executive Director, Africa Business Roundtable and NEPAD Business Group, Mr. Dotun Ajayi, said the future of Africa was promising but there was the need to close the infrastructure gap in order to ensure that the promising future does not remain elusive.

'We must come up with innovative funding mechanism for infrastructure. Because it is enormous, the responsibility should be a shared one. The road may be long and challenging but it is a road we must trek. The challenge is huge but it is not insurmountable,' he said.

Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Dr. Carlos Lopes, on his part said it was important for Africa to take up the responsibility of funding its own infrastructure aside from external funding.

President Ibrahim Keita of Mali admitted that Africa is seriously lagging behind in infrastructure therefore making it a duty for all stakeholders to breach the gap.

President Boni Yayi of Republic of Benin argued that there cannot be any development without infrastructure, adding that infrastructure development should be seen as a collective responsibility. Punch