Nigeria Preparing to Invite Billions in Power, Rail Investments

  • Government envisages public-private agreements, concessions
  • Funds will be sought once regulations change, adviser says

An electricity pylons carries power cables above residential property as traffic passes across a bridge from Isale Eko on Lagos Island towards the mainland in Lagos, Nigeria, on Oct. 26, 2015.

Photographer: George Osodi/Bloomberg

Nigeria could invite as much as $5 billion of annual investment to improve its creaking transportation and power networks once regulatory restrictions are removed, a senior government adviser said.

The Nigerian government lacks the means to fix gaps in the country’s infrastructure and ventures with private investors or concessions are the best way forward, Chidi Onyia, an adviser to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said in an interview.

“The regulatory process needs to be slightly loosened up so there is opportunity for investors to come and function without undue interference,” Onyia said Jan. 31 in the capital, Abuja. Nigeria is only able to transmit about 70 percent of the power it produces because of a weak power-line network. “Transmission is still wholly in government hands, but it is a huge space for investors to come in, if the legal and regulatory framework is put in place,” he said.

Africa’s largest economy is turning to private investors as it struggles to expand their participation in infrastructure beyond the sale of power generators and distributors that have taken place. The government’s still working on plans to sell concessions at the four biggest airports, while deals for investments in transportation have been hampered by laws that vest sole control in the state.

A bill currently before lawmakers seeks to break the state’s stranglehold on railroads and allow private investment. Years of neglect have cut freight-rail capacity, with most goods carried on worn-out and congested roads in the continent’s most-populous nation.

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