Addressing Infrastructure Deficit, Key To Africa’s Development, By Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerian Observer Online, 30 July 2012

ABUJA – The Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has reiterated the need to address infrastructure deficit, in order to enhance the African economy.

Okonjo-Iweala said this while addressing a high level policy Dialogue on Infrastructure and Structural Development in Nigeria, organised by the African Development Bank, on Monday in Abuja.

“If African economies and Nigeria are to achieve the structure transformation, then infrastructure deficit must remain a priority for the next decades.

“We know that the productivity of our firms is reduced as much as 40 per cent and the region’s growth by about two per cent each year, due to the infrastructure deficit,’’ she said the minister said that there was the need to tackle the issue of governance and corruption head-on along with the diversification agenda.

She said that a World Bank survey on firms in Nigeria indicated that the greatest threat to diversification of the economy was infrastructure deficit, which stood at 53 per cent, followed by power and then corruption.

“Infrastructure comes first, access to long term finance second and corruption third. So, this shows you how they ranked the challenges we have and it makes this seminar a very important one,’’ she said Commenting on Nigeria’s plans, she said government was working on a 30-year National Integrated Infrastructure Plan (NIIP) to tackle the situation.

According to her, government will take ideas from various development partners on how to tackle infrastructure deficit in the country.

She said that while most developed countries had core infrastructure stock of about 70 per cent, Nigeria’s infrastructure stock was estimated at only 35 per cent.

This, she said, indicated a huge gap in resources needed to tackle the situation and how to meet the benchmark for countries that were more developed.

“The deficit in the power sector remains the most stock; you just need to compare us with South Africa to see where we are.

“Our per capital energy consumption is a 136 KW hours per annum, which is less than three per cent of South African per capital consumption of 4,803 kilo waltz per annum,’’ said.

She said that implementation of the NIIP would positively triple the current situation.

She called for polices that would drive social inclusion, adding that Nigeria would not want to continue to be a growing economy with Gini index going in the wrong direction.

Gini index measures the extent to which the distribution of income or consumption expenditure among individuals or households “China Gini is about 42, Nigeria 48, Brazil 55, South Africa 63 compared with Gini of 31 on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),’’ she said.

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