Banks, Pefs ’Ll Finance Nigeria’s Infrastructure Needs – Wigwe, Access GMD

The Sun, November 21, 2014 (by Amechi Ogbonna)

Group Managing Director and Chief Executive, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, has expressed optimism in the ability of local banks, pension funds and private equity firms to bail the nation out of its huge infrastructure if adequately explored.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the recently concluded African Summit of the Institute of International Finance (IIF) held in Lagos, Wigwe assured that local banks, private equity firms and pension fund administrators have extensive financial  capacity to pool resources that will help the country wriggle out of its perenial infrastructure quagmire.

But he argued that for the country to mobilise funds from such new frontiers,  managers of the economy would need to do a lot of work through adoption of appropriate policy framework that will encourage collaboration from such institutions.

With this huge infrastructure gaps, Wigwe said the country requires such intervention to finance the agriculture value chain to make Nigeria self-reliant in food production and mobilise resources for other critical sectors like transportation and power where Nigerians are still looking forward to see changes after the recent privatisation.

The Access Bank helmsman who regretted that Nigerian insurance industry has remained low in capital formation in contrast to its peers in other economies, noted there was urgent need for more capital injection in such sectors as transportation and power in particular.

While describing the hosting of the conference in Nigeria as very symbolic considering the country’s size in Africa’s economy, Wigwe, who noted that what was critical at the forum was the realisation that Nigeria and Africa as a whole need a lot more capital, said the summit has enabled Nigerian stakeholders to realise that infrastructure funding gaps can be met with appropriate policy mix.

On how Nigerian corporates can attract more global capital into the economy, he said this can be facilitated by strengthening their governance practices as well as having the willingness to give competitive returns to global investors coming to the country.

Meanwhile, IIF  Deputy Director, Africa and Middle East, David Hedley, has attributed the persistent pressure on the naira following recent drop in price of crude oil on the inability of the Federal Government to build up its fiscal buffers to make the economy more resilient to external shocks.

Hedley regretted that over the years, successive Nigerian governments only spent on servicing existing infrastructure rather than building new structure the economy needs to create wealth for the people and to stand firm in times of crises.

To overcome the challenge, he enjoined the Jonathan administration to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill  (PIB)  to allow fresh investment flow into the nation’s oil and gas sector.

About six Nigerian banks, including Access Bank and Zenith Bank, have already subscribed to membership of the IIF, which is an association of global financial institutions located in about 75 countries of the world.