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The African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) has launched a suite of capacity-building workshops which aim to strengthen the capacity of Nigerian Government officials in the area of public-private partnerships, particularly as they relate to infrastructure development.
Organized on the basis of a cost-sharing grant provided by the ALSF to the Government of Nigeria on January 23-25, the first training event was designed to demystify the process of identifying and structuring public-private partnership infrastructure projects, and was co-hosted with the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Finance.
More than 51 Government representatives participated in the workshop. The participants benefitted from training provided by legal experts from Norton Rose Fulbright, an international law firm, and Olaniwun Ajayi, a Nigerian law firm, appointed by the ALSF to support the Government’s efforts to build capacity in the public-private partnership infrastructure sector. The two participating law firms were supported by Canadian Pacific Consulting Services, which provided the financial advisors in developing public-private partnership infrastructure projects.
The event benefitted from remarks delivered by high-level government officials, including Larai Shuaibu, Advisor to the Minister of Finance; Tor Tsavsar, Director of Technical Services at the Federal Ministry of Finance, who spoke on behalf of the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Finance; Chidi Izuwah, Acting Director General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC); and Folarin Alayande, Special Assistant to the President for the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
How are PPP projects identified and structured? Do the appropriate institutional capacities exist to manage a PPP project? How best do we implement a transparent and competitive procurement process? The course responded to these questions and many more in modules spread across the three-day event.
In view of the presence of Nigerian officials from 12 different Government Ministries – in addition to delegates from the Office of the Vice-President – additional efforts were made to develop sector-specific presentations which elaborated on the challenges and opportunities associated with PPP projects in the extractives, agricultural and rural development, transportation, and power sectors.
“The skill and knowledge gained here will contribute in achieving the future plans of the Ministry of Water Resources and will help facilitate our organizational goals, by setting up sensitization programs on how best to attract private-sector financing for water infrastructure projects,” said Esther Oyeniyi Ajibewa, PPP Desk Officer at the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.
ALSF Legal Counsel Nchimunya Ndulo added: “PPP structured projects are key to curbing the financing gap at the root of Africa’s infrastructure deficit. Stakeholder engagement and developing common negotiation positions are also key elements in making such projects succeed for Governments.”
The African region is facing an increasingly precarious infrastructure deficit, particularly in the power and transportation sectors.
For African economies to maintain their steady growth, it is estimated that US $130-170 billion a year will need to be invested over the next decade to bride the infrastructure gap, and much of this investment is expected from the private sector.