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At NBA-SBL conference, panellists push PPP to close Nigeria’s infrastructure gap

The 18th International Business Law Conference announces the theme – ‘Survive and THRIVE’

The Public Private Partnership (PPP) model remains the most feasible means of addressing huge infrastructure gaps in emerging economies like Nigeria in spite of the challenges associated with it, according to panellists at the 17th Annual Business Law Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL).

The panellists, who spoke in one of the sessions at the annual NBA-SBL conference which was held July 5-7, 2023 in Lagos, noted that the future of infrastructure development is in the PPP model adding, however, that notwithstanding its possibilities and effectiveness, the model must be used carefully and responsibly.

The session focused on “Closing Nigeria’s Infrastructural Gap with Public-Private Partnerships” and was moderated by Jobalo Ogunkanlu, Executive Director at ARM-Haring Investment Ltd., while the panellists included Ibrahim Abdullahi, CEO, of Nassarawa State Investment Development Agency; Diekola Onaolapo, Managing Director and Founder, Excellion Capital; Dapo Oduwole, Director-General of the Ogun State PPP Agency; Opiuyo Oforiokuma, Senior Partner at the Africa 50 Infrastructure Acceleration Fund; and Tobenna Erojikwe, Partner at The Law Crest LLP. The panellists sought to answer relevant questions relating to PPPs as well as address concerns associated with the model.

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Speaking on the urgent need to balance the hunger for infrastructural development with the challenge of climate change vis-a-vis its impact on the natural ecosystem and human communities, Oforiokuma noted that Africa could be a global leader in this regard. According to him, the continent’s contribution to the problem of climate change is so meagre compared to the more industrialized economies and, if the rules were followed while pursuing sustainable development goals, Africa could be a torchbearer for a more responsible global developmental paradigm.

He also recommended that in order to fix the worrisome dearth of infrastructure in Nigeria, the country needed to leverage what he called “bankable capital”.

On his part, Oduwole of the Ogun State PPP Agency emphasised that the future of infrastructure development is in PPP, while Abdullahi of the Nassarawa State Investment Development Agency highlighted the human element of development, saying the silent ‘P’ in the PPP equation stands for ‘People’.

The panellists noted that there was the need for the Federal Government of Nigeria, along with corporate and intergovernmental organizations, to be more robust and intentional in their engagement with states and other subnational stakeholders given that the bulk of PPP projects actually reside within the purview of state governments.

They further harped on the need to have reliable policies and regulatory frameworks that focus on and address all the concerns around PPPs, including the issues of accountability and transparency, in order to ensure an enabling environment for the model to thrive.

The 2023 NBA-SBL Annual Business Law Conference, with the theme “The Nigerian Business Landscape: Priorities for Law, Policy and Regulation”, featured several panel discussions which revolved around key sectors such as infrastructure, energy, mining, and telecommunications, among others.