USAID urges private sector to invest in infrastructure for inclusive growth in Nigeria

Industry leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs have been urged to increase their investments in infrastructure in Nigeria.

The admonition was given at a conference organised by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The conference highlighted the significance of infrastructure investment in promoting inclusive growth and development, and showcased investment opportunities in strategic sectors.

Participants agreed that private sector investment in infrastructure was crucial to achieving Nigeria’s development objectives across various sectors of the economy. However, stakeholders at the event called for a reduction of red tape to allow private sector aid in infrastructure financing.

During the conference, Bolaji Balogun, Chief Executive Officer of Chapel Hill Denham, emphasised the importance of involving professionals in delivering critical infrastructural projects across various sectors of the economy.

He urged the incoming government to prioritise infrastructure investment, saying that it serves as a foundation for transforming agriculture, improving manufacturing capabilities, enhancing education, and even bolstering security measures. Balogun further stressed that adequate attention to infrastructure would lead to development across all sectors, including security, healthcare, and education.

“When you invest in infrastructure, you invest in power, transportation, digital infrastructure and energy infrastructure; what you end up doing is that you completely create a foundation for changing agriculture.

 “Even basic things you and I don’t think about like security, healthcare, and education are all impacted by infrastructure. So, there are many things you can do to change an economy but the foundation of it is to improve the level of investment in infrastructure,” he said.

In his remarks, Lazarus Angbazo, Chief Executive Officer of InfraCo, noted that the Presidential Infrastructure Funds would continue to focus on development, construction, and operation by committing Naira equity in each of the areas.

He advocated for mobilising domestic funds, providing encouragement to institutional investors, and designating a percentage of the GDP available for Debt Management Office (DMO) to provide guarantees.

Acting USAID/Nigeria Mission Director, Sara Wert, who also spoke at the conference, stressed that the INVEST activity and the partnership between USAID and Chapel Hill Denham would attract investments that would create jobs, improve infrastructure, and drive progress in key sectors of the Nigerian economy.

“Our discussions today will impact how we can work together to enable low-carbon and resilient infrastructure in Africa,” she added.

The participants gained insights into emerging trends and opportunities in the sectors, including infrastructure investment opportunities in the agro-industry, digital technology, financial services, and energy and renewables sectors. They also engaged industry leaders and learned from their presentations.

Ayodeji Balogun, Group Chief Executive Officer of AFEX, noted that the talents who had chosen to participate in solving the solutions in the agricultural space were the best thing that had happened to agriculture. He hoped that with better macro conditions, more capital inflows to Africa, and more blended-development focus investment streams, the industry would start seeing the gain.

Mezuo Nwuneli, Managing Director of Sahel Capital, said that investing in agricultural infrastructure was critical to ensuring a suitable food ecosystem and pricing system. However, he cautioned that it was a long-term economic and political stability investment opportunity.

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