At least 50 per cent of the N14 trillion funding needed for Infrastructure Company Limited (Infra-Co) will be raised from the local market, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, disclosed yesterday.

President Muhammadu Buhari, earlier this year, approved the creation of the company expected to bridge the wide infrastructure-funding gap with a seed capital of N1 trillion, being equity contributions of the CBN, African Finance Corporation (AFC) and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA). That leaves the N15 trillion behemoth with a funding gap of N14 trillion.

Emefiele, who spoke with the media, yesterday, after the 2021 Retreat of the Bankers’ Committee, said the fund would be “substantially” sought from the domestic fund. He expressed confidence that 50 per cent to tw0-third of the amount from being raised from idle funds with pension administrators and areas.

According to the CBN boss, it was only reasonable funding was substantially limited to local market revenues of the underlying projects would be raised in local currency. “Where foreign currencies are needed, we will also take,” he stressed.

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He disclosed that the bankers agreed at the retreat to do anything they could to reduce poverty, create jobs and grow the economy in the coming years.

To achieve this, he said, they would focus on massive infrastructure investment next year. He insisted that Nigeria could not afford to lag in infrastructure funding.

“We know there are so many projects and I am sure when we begin to take stock of the infrastructure projects, we find out that they run into hundreds of trillions of naira. But we have decided to start with just the first phase, which is just N15 trillion,” Emefiele noted, adding that Infra-Co would move to other phases when it delivers on the pioneer projects. The essence of the renewed efforts to push more resources into infrastructure is “to bring manufacturing back to life”.

He was confident the road projects would be able to repay the loans as they are commercially viable and would be tolled. He added that tolling would provide the needed resources to maintain the key infrastructure “on a regular basis” and that “people will pay and enjoy good facilities.”

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Emefiele also noted that the National Arts Theatre, being redeveloped by the Bankers’ Committee, would serve as a flagship project for empowering the youths, creating jobs in the creative sector and reducing poverty. The project, which is estimated at a delivery cost of about $100 million, was handed over to the Committee last year with a mandate to rebuild it into a modern creative hub.

An optimistic Emefiele said Nigeria could only achieve true prosperity when economic growth surpassed the population growth rate, estimated at 2.6 per cent.

He said the frameworks of the planned International Finance Centre (IFC), which is to be sited at the Eko Atlantic City, would be at par or surpass what is obtainable anywhere in the world.

The Centre, according to him, would attract the funding required to boost economic performance and boost foreign exchange supply. He said Nigeria urgently needs a fully diversified economic base to create jobs and reduce poverty.