Nigeria Woos Private Sector to Up Housing, Gas Infrastructure and Manufacturing Investments

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The Nigerian government is making concerted efforts to attract more investments by private companies into critical sectors of the economy such as housing, gas infrastructure and manufacturing.

The Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Company on Tuesday in Abuja said it had so far injected the sum of N6 billion to the mortgage market in order to reduce the housing deficit in the country.

The Managing Director of NMRC, Prof. Charles Inyangete gave the figure while speaking during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the agency and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The MoU was signed in order to enable the NBS carry out survey that would provide data on the housing sector to be used by the NMRC to make informed decisions regarding the refinancing of mortgages.

In order to attract more investors into the housing sector, Iyangete said the NMRC had also signed a foreclosure agreement with some state governments to enable investors in the sectors to have a level playing field and to also understand the environment they operate..

The NMRC boss explained that the agency had refinanced several hundreds of housing projects with the injection of the N6 billion.

“We want to be the dominant housing partner in Nigeria and the key thing that we are supposed to do is to provide liquidity to the mortgage lenders and not directly to individuals. We have refinanced several mortgages and many more mortgages have been created.

“As we speak now, we are looking at a five thousand mortgage refinancing transactions which we are evaluating before going to the market at the end of this quarter.

“We have big designs and we are looking at substantially more because our programmes as approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission is about N140bn and so it’s quite a long way to go,” he said.

In providing finance for the mortgage sector, Inyangete said the agency had brought stability to the market through the issuance of longer term finance.

“We believe that part of the biggest challenge today is to find an affordable home. So, we need to make sure that we help drive the process of bringing to reality the affordable homes,” he said.

Similarly, the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi on Tuesday at a stakeholders’ workshop on Road Transport Management and Mass Transit Operations held in Abuja, urged investors to embrace construction of infrastructure for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) across the country.

Amaechi said that the investments would boost the use of natural gas as an alternative for Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) for road transportation.
He said that to popularise the use of gas, petroleum agencies must provide the needed infrastructure.

“For CNG to be successful, we must deal with the first issue, which is gas infrastructure, if there is no pipeline in Kano, how can we take CNG to Kano.
If they say that we should invest in CNG, government must be ready to invest in gas infrastructure, meaning that everyone should have access to it on ground.

“Apart from the cost reduction, it is environment friendly, so when the infrastructure is on ground, we can now introduce operators to it,’’ he said.

In another News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Monitored investment summit held in Lagos on Tuesday and organised by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) and World Bank, Dr Jumoke Oduwole, Senior Special Assistant to Buhari on Industry, Trade and Investment, said the government understood all the challenges confronting businesses.

Oduwole said that government was being mindful of policies taken as solutions to the challenges militating against the country’s competitiveness without resulting in policy inconsistency.

She said that maintaining the country’s competitiveness was not only that of the government but that which called for partnership.

Oduwole added that there was need to continue to boost human capital apart from improving on infrastructure that would help to improve investment opportunities.

Earlier at the workshop, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Mr Eke Ubiji, said the government should ensure that interest rates charged by banks were reduced.

Ubiji explained that such would make small and medium enterprises to have access to finance.

He said that the issue of high charges remained a challenge to SME operators but urged the government to interface with commercial banks to bring down interest rates to a single digit.

Mr Paul Gbededo, Managing Director of Flour Mills Nigeria Plc., said the manufacturing sector had the ability to increase its quota to the Gross Domestic Product.

Gbededo said the sector could improve its contribution to the GDP from the current 9.4 per cent to as high as 30 per cent within the shortest possible period.

The managing director added that the manufacturing sector had the potential to boost the nation’s competitiveness in the global market.

He said: “It is possible and doable. If we are talking about competitiveness, we should look at the manufacturing sector as whole.

“We should look at how we can get cheap capital for the sector’’.

The Chairman of Stanbic IBTC, Mrs Sola David-Borha, said those in charge of monetary and fiscal policies should work more harmoniously for the attainment of the priorities.

David-Borha said that there had always been continuous assurance from the government on its agenda and policies but it needed to be more transparent to attract more investors.

She added that once that was in place, there would be more liquidity in the system.

On financing the infrastructure deficit, David-Borha said that the government could embark on dedicated bond issuance for that purpose.

According to her, financing infrastructure deficit involves public-private partnership because of its capital intensive nature.

She said: “It has to be bankable in such a way that the risk associated with the projects will not be transferred to only the investors.’’

Mr Akin Ajibola, Partner, Akin Ajibola and Co, expressed the belief that the government still needed to strengthen institutions but noted that several regulators were trying in that capacity.

Ajibola said that there had been several policy somersaults over the years with almost no innovation in terms of policy that was dynamic.

He said the government also needed to adopt legislative approaches that would ensure a review of each sector in the economy.



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