I was in a group discussion about the ways to foster infrastructure and infrastructural growth in Nigeria. I will like to share my few bits on some solutions that I would consider would be
- Investments in socially relevant and revenue generating infrastructure. These include Railway construction and Mass transit systems. This because efficient logistics and transportation is one of the bedrocks of the economy. It helps people to get goods and services faster, in better condition and at better prices. It reduces the burden on the roads, so we don’t spend in constructing same set of roads every year or two. It also helps with traffic congestion in the urban cities.
- Better government policies for infrastructure growth. We discussed how infrastructure projects are inconsistent, lacked continuity and are allocated based on nepotism. I will consider this due to the increase with abandoned projects that comes with change in government. There should be polices on project completion timelines and enforced penalties for defaulting. Standard on allocating projects should be based on track records, competencies rather than tribe, religion or ‘bribery.
- Embracing new, innovative technologies in our processes. New technologies are being reeled out everyday in this internet age. But we are quite backwards in government in embracing them in most of our infrastructure processes. Technology help in minimizing human errors and bias, in efficient monitoring and evaluation, forecast of demand and supply, early detection of infrastructure defects etc. This will help the federal government get the maximum value as possible from our infrastructure investments and facilitate growth. A good example is the CBN and the Finance sector embracing digital economy.
- Encourage and embrace Private-Public Partnership. The federal government can’t do everything by themselves. There is need to involve the private companies, privatize some sectors in order to get them working optimally.
I will also add
- Involve the Nigerian people in infrastructure and infrastructural growth decisions. This can be done by public polls, mini infrastructure completions where ideas are actually considered and implemented, seed project partnership… the actual people who these infrastructures are meant for will feel an obligation to maintain the system and make things work for the betterment of all of us.
- We should first consider short-term, revenue generating infrastructure goal. Example is combating the recent flood situation to reduce impending food scarcity, combating insecurity, investing in efficient power grid system, empowering farmers and restructuring the agri-sector etc. The revenue from these will help reduce or national debts and in financing the longer-term infrastructure projects. The Timing of our decisions are one of the most important things. The shorter, The faster income turnover, the better.
I would like to conclude by saying that the economy grows when there is relevant infrastructure in place and appropriate policies to encourage infrastructure growth. By considering the Nigerian people, our environment(planet) in making these economic decisions that generate revenue, we can turn our current situation around.