Building Infrastructure for Sustainable Development in Nigeria
Sustainable Development requires sustainable infrastructure that can impact the economy, society, and the environment. Infrastructural development is a goal that has very high multiplier effects on every aspect of the economy and human living as well as very huge return on investments for the investor. For any individual to obtain good education access sound healthcare, and secure employment depend solely on infrastructure available for ecosystem sustenance, animal and plant diversity, safety, and inclusion.
Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss
Much like fresh water, land and soil are essential and pivotal for key ecosystem services, and human development relies on related ecosystem services to provide food, energy and a healthy environment. This goal aims at sustaining life on land by conserving forests, wetlands, mountains, and dry lands. These entail fighting soil/habitat degradation and preserving biodiversity. The benefits of this goal are linked to preserving endangered species, combatting climate change, and enhancing productivity.
On the surface, it seems impossible to decipher the link between this goal and infrastructural capacity but the importance of infrastructure to achieving the goal are enormous. Experts propose that a strategy to bolster diversity and land conservation is the introduction of green infrastructure in the form of parks and gardens, urban forests, green walls, green roofs, golf courses, waterfronts, tree lined streets, and a host of others. These green infrastructure provide grazing and perching spots for animals, which will keep them from extinction.
Moreover, a major form of land degradation is soil erosion. The construction of ridges, terracing, dams, shelterbelts, and soil covers are effective and proven means of curbing soil erosion. Also, good road networks are indispensable to maintaining and conserving forests, as well as to transport timber and logs from forests to cities. Nigeria, rich in mountains, forests, and diverse of plant and animal species needs to give attention to this goal in order to tap into its benefits; and infrastructure is key in realizing the goal.
GOAL 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Targets of this goal centre on reducing violence, reducing illicit financial and arms flows and ensuring responsive, inclusive, participatory decision-making at all levels. In ranking the most corrupt countries in the world in 2015 by Transparency International, Nigeria ranks 26 on a scale of 0–100, (0 meaning most corrupt); this goal is one of the most important to the country. Furthermore, with military insurgencies, terrorist attacks, social demonstrations, and other vices, Nigeria suffers from a high rate of violence and violence related deaths. One of the established causes of violence in any society is lack of access to basic infrastructure and services, which exacerbates tension and instigates violence. In addition, corruption and violence in Nigeria successfully thrive in environments lacking facilities like streetlights, telecommunications, security, and functional parks. Besides, targets 16.10 and 16.a centering on public access to information and strengthened institutions can only be attained with modern communication infrastructure and technology.
GOAL 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for Sustainable Development
This concluding goal creates a road map to achieving the preceding 16 sets of ambitious goals the world is meant to implement over the next fifteen (15) years. A recurrent undertone to every target of this goal is the need for a combined effort by all countries and capacity building for every nation to tap into all the goals. An essential part of capacity building is infrastructure required to develop nations .
In addition, target 17.11 specifies the need for an increase in exports by developing nations that can obviously not be achieved without good roads and sound transportation networks. Finally, targets 17.18 and 17.19 emphasize monitoring of the progress of all the goals; this can only happen when there are good communication, monitoring, and security facilities in place.
Having examined all 17 goals, the role of sound infrastructure is required to strengthen their success potential; Nigeria will need to device strategic plans to improve its infrastructural capacity before 2030. Shortage of funds, human and resource capacity are however the bridges the country will have to cross before overcoming infrastructural dearth. In order to drive sustainable development with infrastructure in Nigeria, the country will need to provide answers to the questions of: how much is needed? How can the funds be raised? And who should take up the roles?
How much is needed?
On September 3, 2014, the Federal Executive Council approved the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP), a blueprint to guide the government of Nigeria in infrastructure planning and development for the next 30 years. According to the plan, about $3.05 trillion (N485 trillion) is needed over 30 years to deliver quality infrastructure in the energy, transport, ICT, housing, water, agriculture, mining, social infrastructure, vital registration, and security sectors. In order to actualize the plan, the blueprint projected a $166.1 billion (N26.9 trillion) investment over the first five years (2014–2018), estimated to require an annual N6.5 trillion investment. Priority is to be given to the energy, transport, social infrastructure, and housing sectors.
How can the funds be raised?
The NIIMP clearly presents the strategy to raise the funds for infrastructural development in Nigeria; the Federal and State governments are expected to provide 52% of the investment while the private sector is expected to supply the other 48% for the first five years. Although a very ambitious and well-planned strategy, nevertheless, the realities of the current economic position of Nigeria raise doubts as to whether this plan is going to be realized. Only over N3 trillion has been the total government infrastructure budget between 2014 and 2016, 3 years into the plan, due to low overall budgets across these years.
Notwithstanding the present blurry state of the plan, these funds have to be raised if infrastructure development and subsequently, poverty elimination and sustainable development are ever going to be achieved in the country in the nearest future.
Public-Private Partnerships: Infrastructure development is one of the lofty projects that can never be successful solely with government’s funding. This reflects the reason the United Nations in the development projection created a separate goal on partnerships for sustainable development — Goal 17. Similarly, the Nigeria’s infrastructure development blueprint also recognizes that almost half of the required investments should come from the private sector. Infrastructure projects should be performed in conjunction with private businesses at all levels.
As it is now obvious that infrastructure is important to every other aspect of development and growth and that both the public and private sectors should be involved, all private businesses and organisations will do well to explore the possibility of investing in infrastructure and include infrastructure development as part of their Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility strategies no matter how little.
In the same vein, governments at all levels should create a conducive environment for the private sector in order to stimulate their interests. Incentives, favourable tax system, and foreign exchange should be made attractive to private businesses. Moreover, every form of discouraging bureaucratic obstacle (corruption, bribes, unnecessary official procedures and red tapes), in the way of private businesses should be reduced to the barest minimum.
Infrastructure Fund: Realising that it is practically impossible to locally fund infrastructural development in Nigeria, the government in its 2016 budget implementation plan declared the need for an infrastructural fund in order to make up for the recurrent infrastructure-funding deficit in the budget. Thankfully, foreign companies are beginning to show interest in Nigeria’s infrastructure fund; United States’ Pecora Capital LLC for instance has launched a Nigeria Infrastructure Fund (NiFund), to raise $2 billion towards infrastructural projects.
The Infrastructure fund and new NiFund, though brilliant ideas for raising infrastructural capital will not yield any result unless funding is sustained over a long time. Sustaining this lies in the hands of the government and its policies. Investors will certainly show interest in Nigeria considering the country’s resources and human potentials however, it is the responsibility of the country (government and citizens), to ensure these investors are better attracted, made comfortable, and retained, in order to achieve the set goals. Investor-friendly tax systems and review as well as security and stability are important means to attaining this result.
Another infrastructural funding strategy the Nigerian government is set to explore is the Pension Fund.
Who should take up the roles?
After all plans and projections, if the public sector is to raise the 52% needed through budget allocations and the infrastructure fund so that the private sector raises the other 48% then, all hands must be on deck for the plan to be accomplished. Both sectors must put in place feasible frameworks to deliver their roles.
Government should initiate investments and partnerships, create conducive environment, and monitor the processes till all plans are achieved. The private sector should embrace this role, partner with the government and invest significantly. Foreign investors should be made to reconsider Nigeria for impactful investments so as to boost infrastructure development. Developed countries should implement target 17.2 by giving at least 0.7% of their Official Development Assistance (ODA)/Gross Domestic Income (GNI) to developing countries and specifically channel the commitment to Nigeria towards infrastructural development. Finally, citizens should imbibe maintenance culture so that facilities are better managed and handled responsibly.
As all ideas, plans and strategies towards infrastructural development in Nigeria seem to be in the right direction, it is important to note that planning is good but performance is better. Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.” — Nolan Bushnell
*References are available on: www.sustainableconvos.com