(Report by Udeme Clement):
The Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), Mr. Alex Okoh,
has once again called for greater private sector involvement in financing critical infrastructural development in the maritime sector, in order for the industry to become a major revenue earner for the Federal Government.
He made this assertion during a webinar session on “Public Private Partnership as alternative financing model in the maritime sector” hosted by Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by SIFAX Group.
Citing the success of port concession as a justification for more private sector funding, wherein he revealed that government’s revenue from the sector had more than doubled ten years post-concession.
Okoh said that competing needs for government’s limited resources has also made PPP a welcome option.
The BPE DG further revealed the Government has simplified PPP process, which now allows for private sector players to scout for projects that can be financed through PPP model.
In his words: “The Bureau of Public Enterprises has been entrusted with a significant part of the PPP responsibilities in Nigeria through the Government’s circular of September 2020. What this means in effect is that players in the country’s maritime and other key sectors of the economy can identify and suggest projects for the government through BPE or relevant MDAs.
“Once these projects are examined, approval will be given to relevant parties to undertake an appraisal, feasibility study or outline of business case which will be scrutinised by the government. Thereafter, a tender will be published.
“The benefit of this is that the originator of the project will be allowed to provide a matching offer with that of the highest bidder. If the party is able to match this offer, they will be declared the preferred bidder”.
He urged the private sector to carefully identify the gap in transport infrastructure in the nation’s maritime sector and work towards providing solutions to these gaps.
Okoh noted that such investments in and around Nigeria’s ports will help reduce high shipping and terminal charges, as well as local transport to warehouse costs, which will in turn make the country’s port more competitive and business friendly in comparison to other African countries”.
In his remarks, the Group Executive Director, Corporate Services, SIFAX Group, Mr. Bode Ojeniyi, the sponsors of the webinar, stressed that the subject matter was timely and germane given huge infrastructure deficit in the sector that could be addressed with PPP.
He, however, urged that the government should do better at making the country more business friendly by removing the crippling bureaucratic bottlenecks that are currently making investments in any sector very unattractive.