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Experts call on banks to fund infrastructure

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Experts in the financial sector have called on banks across the country to support the government in funding infrastructure to create opportunities for economic recovery.

The president of Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Dr. Ken Opara, a finance and infrastructure specialist, Opuiyo Oforiokuma and other experts advised financial institutions at the 2022 fellowship investiture of the CIBN to come up with different ideas in a way to fund infrastructure in Nigeria.

Speaking at the event, Opara said the government cannot fund infrastructure development alone and urged the banks to get involved to develop the economy adding that there is a need to start talking about the potential strategies as financiers of infrastructure.

โ€œIt is near impossible to expect the government to foot the entire bill. The approach adopted by the government in tackling infrastructure challenges over the years has largely been through a combination of budgetary allocation augmented by foreign and domestic debts.

โ€œThis approach partly accounts for the continued rise in Nigeriaโ€™s debt profile resulting in increased cost of debt servicing to the country. In this regard, there are serious concerns that project financing mainly through debt is not sustainable in the long run.โ€

Opara said that the answer to bridging the infrastructure gap in Nigeria is to embrace fresh thinking and a new approach to unlocking the funding needed for viable infrastructure projects.

โ€œA good place to start for the government is to have a good financial model and a strong regulatory platform, so that financial institutions can allocate money in public-private partnerships to fund infrastructure development.โ€

On his part, infrastructure specialist, Opuiyo Oforiokuma, said Infrastructure is critical to economic growth, social development and to the ease of doing business in developed and developing countries.

He noted that power supply is one of the biggest challenges Nigeria is facing currently and the pressure is on the country to invest more in renewable energy.

He advised financial institutions to invest in equity funds and subscribe to infrastructure bonds, as it is another way of financing infrastructure in the country.