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Nigeria set to extend privatisation to boost infrastructure investment

Proposals for the privatisation of several sectors in Nigeria including rail and roads have been drawn up for consideration by legislators in the new year.

The director-general of Nigeria’s Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) Benjamin Dikki said the move is designed to build on the success of the earlier privatisation in Nigeria in the banking, power and telecoms sectors, the country’s Vanguard newspaper reported.

Dikki told an end-of-year meeting of the Commerce and Industry Correspondence Association of Nigeria in Lagos that the BPE had drawn up “eight critical bills” to be considered by legislators, Vanguard said.

The draft legislation includes a port and harbour bill, inland waterways bill, roads fund bill and railway bill, Dikki said. There will also be a federal competition and consumer protection bill.

In addition, Dikki said the BPE “is working with the relevant ministries” for reform in sectors such as health and housing by reviewing legal and regulatory frameworks.

According to Vanguard, Dikki said Nigeria’s government “is riding on the success story” of the privatisation of several public enterprises, including telecoms and steel production, making the country increasingly attractive to private investors.

“The reform of the telecoms sector remains the most successful in terms of its impact on the economy. For example, Nigeria's ‘tele-density’ has been raised from 450,000 telephone lines in 2001 to over 134.5 million as at September 2014,” Dikki said. “Today, telecoms’ contributions to the gross domestic product (GDP) is 8.53% compared to less than 3% in 2001.”

Last April, Nigeria emerged as the largest economy in Africa, after the country overhauled its GDP data for the first time in 20 years. Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said then that it expected the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) to “improve further to take advantage of the higher domestic spending power” while local investment is projected to increase.

“FDI is dependent on the expectation of foreign investors on the risks of investing in an economy as well as the returns from such investment,” NBS said. “Therefore, if as a result of the rebased estimates investors perceive better opportunities for them to invest, then it is likely to result in a higher FDI into the Nigerian economy.”

Last year a multi-million euro package of financial aid to help develop Nigeria’s renewable energy infrastructure was announced by the European Commission, in partnership with the World Bank and the German agency for international cooperation.

In October, Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan welcomed the start of construction works on the first phase of the Azura-Edo Independent Power Project (IPP), the country’s “first fully-financed private sector power plant”. The first phase, which will see construction of a 450-megawatt open cycle gas turbine power plant by Azura Power near Benin City, in Edo stat, is targeted to come on stream in 2017.

The $750 million transaction for the first phase of the project, the first of a series of project-financed greenfield IPPs in Nigeria, was finalised in May 2014.

In a related development, $300m is being invested in the country’s new Oben gas plant in Edo state by the Seplat Petroleum Development Company PLC, as part of a joint venture with the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company. Oben will supply gas to Azura-Edo.

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