How Nigeria Plans To Revive Its Railway Sector

Railway, Nigeria, The transport sector in Nigeria will soon be witnessing increased activities in the railways, following renewed collaboration between the federal government and foreign partners.

The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, revealed that negotiations were at advanced stage with General Electric, an American multinational conglomerate and the China Exim Bank on the revival of the rail system.

Mr Amaechi told reporters shortly after he visited the dry inland port in Jos, the Plateau State capital, that work would commence on the narrow and standard rail line gauge across Nigeria as soon as the negotiations were concluded.

Rotimi Amaechi, Transport, Energy
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi

The minister, who was at the Heipang Inland Container Depot to inspect its facilities, was accompanied by officials of the Ministry of Transportation, the Nigerian Shippers Council, members of the Plateau State Executive Council as well as the concessionaire of the port.

Having inspected the site which borders the Yakubu Gowon Airport and a railway station, Mr Amaechi stressed the need to develop facilities in the inland dry ports on a tripartite arrangement involving the Federal Government, the host state government and the private investor.

Simon Lalong, Plateau State, Plateau, amnesty, Arms Proliferation
Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong

In his response, Governor Simon Lalong assured the minister that Plateau State would contribute its part in the development and implementation of the project, with assurance that the project would receive urgent attention by his administration.

The Chairman, Plateau Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Bulus Daren, highlighted some of the advantages of the development.

He expressed optimism that apart from decongesting the seaports, the inland dry port would bring shipping services to the door steps of shippers across Nigeria, as well as assist in the overall costs of cargo to hinterland locations.

It is speculated that the Nigerian Shippers Council has been promoting and facilitating the establishment of inland container depots on the basis of public-private partnership with six approved locations in Aba, Ibadan, Jos, Kano, Funtua and Maiduguri to service the Nigerian populace.

Nigeria’s $25b Infrastructural Fund Gains Traction

Yemi-Osinbajo on Infrastructural FundThe plan of the Nigerian government to raise a $25 billion Infrastructural Fund from the global community and establish long term bankable projects is gaining traction, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says.

At a meeting with a delegation of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday, the Vice President said: “We have seen considerable, favourable interests from some Sovereign Wealth Funds and other nations”.

Explaining the idea of the Fund to the delegation, Professor Osinbajo said that the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, which manages the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, was leading the project.

He stated that the Infrastructural Fund would create opportunity for commercial partners to participate in the building of the nation’s infrastructures alongside the Federal Government.

This would be done through the establishment of bankable projects that involves such commercial partners.

One of the partners, the China-Exim Bank has agreed to finance the railway projects linking Lagos to Kano and Lagos to Calabar.

“We expect these will generate some economic activities and create jobs,” he stressed.

“No Easy Choices”

The Vice President also reiterated the Federal Government’s determination to raise revenue internally to fund the budget, including an expansion of VAT coverage but not an increase of the VAT rate.

“At 20% coverage the VAT coverage now, the Federal Government intends to do much better giving a boost to the country’s tax revenues,” he said.

A statement by the Vice President spokesman, Laolu Akande, said that the delegation of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry was led by Mrs Nike Akande who declared the support of the Chamber for the Federal Government’s fight against corruption and acknowledged that in the current economic situation that the Buhari presidency was having to deal with “there are no easy choices”.

Mrs Akande, a former federal Minister for Industry, called on the Central Bank of Nigeria to find a foreign exchange regime that would boost the confidence of investors and remove uncertainty.

The Vice President told the delegation that the Federal Government was focussed on finding solutions to the economic situation, through a focus on building infrastructure and also diversifying the economy, especially through agriculture.

He said that the government was also focussing on creating an enabling environment for business and investments in Nigeria to thrive.

Emphasis On Power

Professor Osinbajo also received a delegation from the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).

He praised the telecom operators, stating that “there is no question at all about the importance and contribution of the sector especially since the 2001 privatisation”.

The Vice President pointed out that the telecom sector was one of the sectors in the economy that had created a significant impact.

He reiterated the Federal Government’s resolve to develop critical infrastructure in Nigeria, especially in the power sector which was an area of concern expressed by the operators at the meeting.

“The 2016 budget has a lot of emphasis on power, infrastructure, and we are hoping to make considerable progress, with fairly consistent spending on infrastructure over the years, we’ll fare better,” he told ALTON members.

Earlier, the Chairman of the association, Mr Gbenga Adebayo, presented an industry report to the Vice President entitled “the Socio-Economic Impact of Telecoms in Nigeria.”

‘Multiple Taxes’

Adebayo also expressed concern of the telecom operators on ‘multiple taxes’ and some of their equipment destroyed by insurgents in the Northeast.

He told the Vice President that the industry had recorded over 120 million subscribers since 2001.

Responding to the concern raised about taxation, the Vice President encouraged the telecom operators to be diligent in the payment of taxes and avoid delinquency, while suggesting that judicial or legislative options be considered in the resolution of what the operators described as ‘multiple taxation’.

While observing the important role of the telecom industry and acknowledging its contributions to the economy, the Vice President sought the cooperation of the telecom companies in national security issues.

Nigeria Has Not Applied For Emergency Loans, Says Finance Minister

LoansThe Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has refuted a report suggesting that Nigeria has applied for emergency loans from World Bank and African Development Bank (AFDB).

A statement made available by her Special Adviser on Media Matters, Mr Festus Akanbi, revealed that Nigeria did not apply for any emergency loan.

The statement quoted the Minister as saying “the truth is that Nigeria, as part of the plans to fund the 2016 budget currently undergoing the approval process of the National Assembly, has indicated an intention to borrow N1.8trillion principally for investment in capital projects to stimulate the economy”.

The Finance Minister said that the option of the World Bank is to ensure an optimum financing structure, noting that the 2016 budget is part of the medium-term economic framework of the Federal Government, which the World Bank is aware of.

According to her, the proposed budget deficit will be funded equally through external and domestic sources.

Nigeria is exploring the options of multilateral agencies like the World Bank and AFDB and export credit agencies such as China Exim Bank due to their concessionary interest rates.

Mrs Adeosun said that the need to invest in infrastructure to stimulate the economy and the long-term payback period of capital projects demands that lowest cost of fund be obtained.

“Nigeria, as a member of World Bank Group is entitled to access available funds like every member-country,” she said.