Nigeria’s business environment would be optimized for major foreign and local investment if the government shifts away from its fragmented approach to infrastructure development and tilts towards sustainable strategies such as Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), Built environment professionals have said.
The experts who spoke at the 7th edition of The Facilities Management (FM) Roundtable organized by Alpha Mead Facilities – a Strategic Business Unit of the Alpha Mead Group, to commemorate the World Facilities Management Day; unanimously agreed that PPPs offer Nigeria a more reliable and sustainable funding option, increased accountability systems and faster delivery of critical infrastructure for the country.
The FM Roundtable is an annual Business-to-Business, high-calibre event organized for FM service providers, customers, C-Suite and senior management executives in Nigeria and Ghana to network, share knowledge, and to discuss industry trends, challenges and opportunities.
This year, the roundtable which held simultaneously in Nigeria and Ghana provided FM professionals a platform to discuss; how to enable positive experience and the role of PPP as a sustainable model for provision and management of public infrastructure.
Speaking at the forum in Lagos, Engr. Femi Akintunde, Group Managing Director, Alpha Mead, explained that given the important role of infrastructure in the growth of the Real Estate and FM industry, and its apparent perennial shortage in every sector of the economy; the government must become innovative in its approach to infrastructure provision and maintenance, if the economy must live up to expectations.
“The current state of our economic and social infrastructure compare with our aspiration as Nigerians is a clarion call for sustainable Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models to bridge the gap between where we are as a country and where we want to be in terms of productivity, development and national prosperity,” Engr. Akintunde said.
Engr. Chidi Izuwah, Acting Director General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) while presenting his paper; “Enabling Positive Experience by using the PPP model for the Provision and Management of Public Infrastructure and Quality Assets” agrees with Akintunde, stating that PPPs have become recognized globally as an effective option for implementing public infrastructure and providing services – a trend Nigeria should emulate.
Izuwah however noted that while PPP is not a panacea to all infrastructure requirements, the concept has proven to deliver critical infrastructure in emerging markets like Nigeria; citing some of the current PPP projects in the country include; the provision of Hydro power plant in Jebba and Shiroro; the construction of Deepwater Port, Lekki; the revamping of the Kiri Kiri Terminals I and II and the Lilypond Terminal Conversion to Agro Processing and Export etc.
However, despite these achievements, Engr. Akintunde believes there is an enormous room for improvement if government demonstrates its commitment in providing an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.
In his words; “quite frankly, we have seen some commitment by the government to leverage on PPP to bridge our infrastructure gap and enhance the lives of Nigerians in recent time, however, only few of these projects are performing optimally. Some of them have even be truncated”, he noted.
Akintunde furthered that some of the reasons for these setbacks include; Lack of trust among the PPP stakeholders, inadequate knowledge of the technicalities of the specific projects on the part of Public and Private Sector PPP Parties, policy inconsistencies on the part of government and lack of maintainability and sustainability views of the projects by all parties, including the public.
He noted that for the infrastructure sector to benefit from PPP as it is in other developed climes, these issues must be addressed.
The FM Roundtable also presented FMs with a platform to discuss other trends defining the retail, residential, corporate and industrial segment of the Real Estate sector.