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Addressing Infrastructure Deficit, Key To Africa’s Development, By Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerian Observer Online, 30 July 2012


ABUJA – The Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has reiterated the need to address infrastructure deficit, in order to enhance the African economy.

Okonjo-Iweala said this while addressing a high level policy Dialogue on Infrastructure and Structural Development in Nigeria, organised by the African Development Bank, on Monday in Abuja.

“If African economies and Nigeria are to achieve the structure transformation, then infrastructure deficit must remain a priority for the next decades.

“We know that the productivity of our firms is reduced as much as 40 per cent and the region’s growth by about two per cent each year, due to the infrastructure deficit,’’ she said the minister said that there was the need to tackle the issue of governance and corruption head-on along with the diversification agenda.

She said that a World Bank survey on firms in Nigeria indicated that the greatest threat to diversification of the economy was infrastructure deficit, which stood at 53 per cent, followed by power and then corruption.

“Infrastructure comes first, access to long term finance second and corruption third. So, this shows you how they ranked the challenges we have and it makes this seminar a very important one,’’ she said Commenting on Nigeria’s plans, she said government was working on a 30-year National Integrated Infrastructure Plan (NIIP) to tackle the situation.

According to her, government will take ideas from various development partners on how to tackle infrastructure deficit in the country.

She said that while most developed countries had core infrastructure stock of about 70 per cent, Nigeria’s infrastructure stock was estimated at only 35 per cent.

This, she said, indicated a huge gap in resources needed to tackle the situation and how to meet the benchmark for countries that were more developed.

“The deficit in the power sector remains the most stock; you just need to compare us with South Africa to see where we are.

“Our per capital energy consumption is a 136 KW hours per annum, which is less than three per cent of South African per capital consumption of 4,803 kilo waltz per annum,’’ said.

She said that implementation of the NIIP would positively triple the current situation.

She called for polices that would drive social inclusion, adding that Nigeria would not want to continue to be a growing economy with Gini index going in the wrong direction.

Gini index measures the extent to which the distribution of income or consumption expenditure among individuals or households “China Gini is about 42, Nigeria 48, Brazil 55, South Africa 63 compared with Gini of 31 on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),’’ she said.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2013 in Africa Development

 

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A holistic approach may be vital in combating insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, by Chofor Che


Cameroon will on June 24 to 25, 2013 welcome Heads of state and other world leaders for the first ever international meeting on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. In his announcement on June 17 2013, Cameroon’s Minister of Communications, Issa Tchiroma said Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) member countries, United Nations (UN) representatives; African Union (AU) and Interpol officials will attend the summit.

The Gulf of Guinea is found in the northeasternmost part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean between north and west to Cape Palmas in Liberia and Cape Lopez in Gabon. Among the many rivers that flow into the Gulf of Guinea are the Volta and the Niger . The coastline on the Gulf includes the Bight of Bonny and the Bight of Benin. Organic sediments were deposited especially by the Niger River into the waters of the Gulf of Guinea over millions of years which became crude oil. According to Wikipedia, lastly modified on June 15 2013, the Gulf of Guinea region, along with Angola and the Congo River delta are expected to provide around a quarter of the United States of America’ oil imports by 2015. This region is now considered as one of the world’s top oil and gas exploration destinations.

For some time now, Nigerian gangs have targeted the waters of West Africa, making the Gulf of Guinea the newest hot spot for piracy. The Gulf of Guinea is home to one of Africa’s busiest ports with a lot of oil and fuel passing through each year. Pirates have targeted ships carrying oil and fuel that can be easily sold on the local black market. Pirates have also attacked countries that border the harbour, including the Ivory Coast. According to a report from eNews Channel Africa, dated May 30, 2013, a total of 58 attacks were recorded in the Gulf of Guinea last in 2012, including 10 hijackings. The latest attack occurred in February 2013 where pirates hijacked a French-owned fuel tanker off Ivory Coast.

It is obvious that insecurity is a serious issue in the Gulf of Guinea. This has seriously affected the business operations of multinationals especially oil companies with heavy investments in the region. What really is the cause of insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, and what are the possible solutions to this melee? Of course an international meeting on security in the Gulf of Guinea is necessary, but will this solve the concerns of security in this area, especially if inhabitants of this area feel disgruntled about economic gains trickling out of their region?

First of all the private sector in the Gulf of Guinea is still seriously underdeveloped. The indigenes of this area remain improvised and unemployed, while major multinational companies benefit from natural resources, with encouragement from unscrupulous African leaders. Secondly, the taxes paid to African governments by multinationals are instead starched in foreign bank accounts by corrupt leaders, while their citizens languish in poverty. Although former World Bank executive, Nigeria’s minister for finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at the Lancaster House conference on Saturday June 15 2013, purported that multinationals pay far less taxes than they are supposed to, this money can be put into good developmental use by African governments.

Stepping up security in the Gulf of Guinea is thus very important, but this cannot solve the problem of insecurity in the area. Insecurity concerns in the Gulf of Guinea thus warrant a holistic approach, with more attention on creating jobs and improving the livelihood of the indigenes. Many may argue that most of the pirates carrying out atrocities in this area are from parts of the African continent such as Somalia, but the truth is that these pirates even recruit disgruntled locals who do not benefit from the proceeds of the natural resources exploited from their area.

There is therefore a need for the various governments in the Gulf of Guinea to revamp their private sector and create jobs for their citizens, a majority of whom are of youthful age. It is equally vital for taxes paid by oil multinationals especially to be judiciously utilised in the development of the area. Instead of allowing this money to be starched in foreign bank accounts, African leaders should be coerced especially by these multinationals and the World Bank to ensure that the money paid in as taxes is judiciously used for development and employment. It may also be important for states in the Gulf of Guinea to develop a local policy content which would allow for locals to benefit from activities of multinationals. Ghana already has a commendable local policy content. Other countries in the Gulf of Guinea like Gabon and Cameroon need to follow same. With such a combination of possible suggestions, the Gulf of Guinea would definitely be a safe haven not only for multinationals, but also for the indigenes of this area who also suffer from these attacks.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2013 in Africa Development

 

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