First Bank Nigerian shareholders will vote in August at their annual general meeting in Abuja on whether or not to raise a N500 billion ($3.4 billion) bond in support of domestic infrastructure financing under the country’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program designed to fund and discharge governmental responsibilities while enabling the private sector take control and manage assets which it otherwise would be excluded from. If passed, the debt would be the country’s first corporate bond in three years, an absence that Central Bank governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi attributed to the “high cost of issuing debt,” as well as “tax concerns.”

According to Remi Babalola, Minister of State for Finance, PPPs are vital for African countries to maximize the effectiveness of their “dwindling resources”. While presenting a paper in which he stated that the government was determined to rapidly grow the economy from $200 billion to $300 billion, Babalola stressed:

“A move away from government-owned and government-run institutions remains vital. Africa must liberalize its failing institutions. Weak infrastructure is the single most important binding constraint in Nigeria’s quest for enhanced firm level competitiveness.”

Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, concurs. “From about five million in the early and mid-1970s, [Nigeria’s] population has increased to 18 million and no new roads have been built, water supply has not increased, no new markets have been built, very few hospitals have been built to take care of the people. This calls for mass investment and need for creativity in the management of public expenditure.”

Speaking in London last week, Babalola confided that $10 billion would be required over the next decade in order for Nigeria to “fully tackle infrastructure challenges and attain membership of the top twenty economies by 2020.”

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