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Nigerian Govt Seeks To Commercialise River Basin Development Authorities

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Suleiman Adamu, the minister of water resources has said the government is seeking alternative sources of funding to shore-up the revenue base of the nation’s River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) and make them self-reliant as part of the ongoing reforms in the agency.

Adamu said the reform of the RBDAs is not privatisation but partial commercialisation to make them economically viable, self-reliant and sustainable.

He disclosed this in Abuja at a three-day business implementation training on the partial commercialisation of four pilot RBDAs.

He assured that the reform would cause no job losses, adding that the federal government was aware of the RBDA’s challenges.

Four RBDAs namely: Ogun-Osun RBDA, Upper-Niger RBDA, Sokoto-Rima Basin RBDA and Niger-Delta RBDA have been selected by the federal ministry of water resources in collaboration with the BPE for phased pilot partial commercialisation.

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World Bank suspends Nigerian firm, MD for bribery

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World Bank suspends Nigerian firm, MD for bribery

The World Bank has sanctioned SoftTech IT Solutions and Services Ltd., a Nigerian information technology solutions company, and its Managing Director, Mr Isah Kantigi, for alleged corrupt practices.

The firm, which was involved in the National Social Safety Nets Project, was sanctioned for 50 months while the managing director was sanctioned for 60 months.

This was contained in a statement titled ‘World Bank Group debars SoftTech IT Solutions and Services Ltd. and its managing director’, which was published on the bank’s website on Wednesday.

The statement read in part, “The World Bank Group today announced the 50-month debarment of SoftTech IT Solutions and Services Ltd., an information technology solutions company based in Nigeria, and the 60-month debarment of its managing director, in connection with corrupt practices as part of the National Social Safety Nets Project in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Poor Nigerians to hit 95.1m in 2022, says World Bank

“The debarments make SoftTech and Mr Isah Kantigi, a Nigerian national, ineligible to participate in projects and operations financed by the World Bank Group.”

The World Bank said the firm and the managing director were sanctioned for improper payments made to certain project officials.

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Why Federal government’s Lagos megacity project failed

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Why Federal government’s Lagos megacity project failed

Experts optimistic about new joint development commission

Years after the plan to transform Lagos-Ogun border towns by the federal authorities failed, experts have given reasons why the initial effort could not see the light of the day.

The former President Olusegun Obasanjo had proposed and inaugurated the Lagos Mega City Region Development Authority, headed by the Prof. Akin Mabogunje, a Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, to rescue infrastructural facilities, services and utilities along the corridor through a presidential committee.

The Lagos Mega-City Region covers an area of 153,540 hectares, which is more or less the entirety of Lagos with a continuously expanding built-up area that gulps parts of Ogun State comprising at least, four local government areas of Ado-Odo/Ota, Ifo, Obafemi Owode and Sagamu.

These areas spread through an estimated area of 22, 840 hectares, comprising 15, 640 hectares for non-urban uses, such as, agriculture, conservation/preservation, forest and water supply reserves, recreation, tourism and regional parks, while urban uses in Ogun State accounted for only 7, 200 hectares.

There was plan then to draft legislation on the mega city status of Lagos so that the National Assembly could to pass it into law. Reasons given for the translation of Lagos into a mega-city, according to the Mabogunje’s committee report includes;
• The Mega-City Project came about as a result of the chaotic nature of urban development in Lagos State, which has impacted negatively on Ogun State. This singular factor has become a source of concern for international investors and first-time visitors. Recent statistics by the National Planning Commission (NPC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), revealed that no less than 60 per cent of total economic activities in the country take place in Lagos State.
• The population pressure in the Mega-City Region has been heightened over the years by inadequate housing provision for the continuous streams of immigrants. The report pointed out that although the Mega-City occupies only 37 per cent of the land area of Lagos State, it accommodates nearly 90 per cent of the total population of the state. The average population density within the region is about 20, 000 persons per square kilometre, compared to the national average of only 1, 308 persons per square kilometre.
• The inadequacy of decent residential accommodation has resulted in the Lagos State section of the mega-city region to record 42 slum areas as at 1985. Latest count has put the number a little over 100. Neighbourhood areas such as Ota, Ibafo, Mowe, Ojodu, Akute and Ogifo were under heavy and intense pressure of physical growth with very few indicators of real infrastructural development- the roads are in the most unmotorable states with little or no drainage facilities.

Experts blamed the failure of the Federal Government driven mega-city to politics and demand for the inclusion of the mega cities in the country.

A member of the presidential committee, Ayo Adediran, a town planner, told The Guardian, “the recommendations were not implemented because of challenges bothering on constitutional provisions in the area of funding and legal status of the Authority. And then politics came in as to what happens to other mega cities in Nigeria, more so with different political parties at the States and Federal levels.”

The President, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Olutoyin Ayinde, also attributed the failure to politics. “At that time the governments of Lagos and Ogun operated from different political parties, and the Ogun State governor then, didn’t flow with the drive that Lagos had for the project.

“Constitutionally, there was no provision that made such joint initiative possible, so it couldn’t be appropriated for. Then, some people began to argue that Lagos was not the only Megacity and other cities like Kano and Port Harcourt. The idea got drowned in the middle of all the shenanigans.”

Ayinde explained, “Realising the urban continuum of Lagos and its relative influence on Ogun State, President Obasanjo wanted Ogun State to take advantage of that, although it would have been mutually beneficial to both states.

“Already in the Lagos Metropolitan Master Plan of 1980-2000, parts of Ogun State like Sango Otta had been captured as catchment areas. The Lagos Mega City Region comprised Lagos State and extending in the West as far as Ifo and in the East as far as Mowe in Ogun State.

“In principle, it was a laudable idea, which had three participating entities in Federal Government, Lagos State government and Ogun State government with equity contribution of 40:40:20, respectively. The project would have facilitated distribution of population accompanied by efficient public transportation and other infrastructure and services to make the region sustainable.”

MEANWHILE, a new alliance that will accelerate integration of physical and socio-economic developments of both Lagos and Ogun states is in the offing, with the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the establishment of Lagos-Ogun Joint Development Commission by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Governor Dapo Abiodun.

They agreed to a new beginning in bilateral relationship between the neighbouring states on seven key areas of mutual interests, which are expected to boost security, commerce, urbanisation, infrastructure and also solve boundary disputes.

The MoU, Sanwo-Olu said, would enable the two states to mutually tackle issues prevalent in key economic sectors, including transportation, the environment, housing, health, infrastructure and security.

He said: The MoU being signed “is a game changer that will transform the urban agglomeration that exists between Lagos and Ogun States. We are driven by the desire to stimulate socio-economic growth, bridge development gaps and ensure that Lagos’ megacity status is complemented by pervasive infrastructural development even in boundary towns.

“It has become obvious that the best way to accelerate socio-economic development in both states is by embracing a more collaborative approach for growth, development and urban sustainability. Regardless of the challenges, we are determined to build more livable and stable cities. Our goal is to build sustainable urban cities, where the residents of the both states will have a sense of belonging, embrace participatory governance, and recognise their role in achieving solid urban economies.”

The joint commission, Sanwo-Olu pointed out, is a sustainable development agenda under which Lagos and Ogun will combine resources to meet the socio-economic needs of the people and prepare for the future.

He listed areas of partnership to include infrastructural development in boundary cities, revenue and taxation remittances, trade and investment, resolution of boundary disputes; security intelligence sharing, environmental and physical planning, emergency and disaster management, inland waterways management, traffic management and food security.

After signing the MoU, the governor said next step was to establish a joint committee that would implement the terms of the agreement and formally send Bills to Houses of Assembly in both states to generate statutory support for the establishment of the economic integration commission.

Governor Abiodun, on his part, stressed that the initiative will be a success as it is the first time Lagos and Ogun are having a formal, structured framework of bilateral engagement that would be backed by legislation.

The governor said the MoU took cognisance of the development envisioned by the Mabogunje Committee on Redeployment of Lagos Megacity Region Plan submitted to the Federal Government in 2006.

He said the development imperatives needed to be streamlined for the two States to be focused on sustaining common goals and future growth.

Ayinde said: “A joint commission of both states is the way to go and this is in line with world’s best practices. It would help to take care of issues that have to do with peri-urban development. I will be looking forward to some of the projects like the rail system that supports move of people, goods and services as well as management of solid wastes.

“It is also important to identifying the growth poles as stated in the region and see how this can develop to meet contemporary needs and limit unnecessary trips, thus producing a more efficient environment. What is needed to ensure the commission doesn’t fail is commitment. There should be ways of formalising, legalising and institutionalising this initiative, so that it may become a going-concern.”

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UK’s development finance for Africa rises to £2.2b

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UK’s development finance for Africa rises to £2.2b

The United Kingdom (UK) at the weekend reaffirmed its commitments to channelling investments into Africa as Britain’s development finance in Africa exceeded target to hit £2.2 billion by 2021.

At the second UK’s Africa Investment Conference (AIC) at the weekend, UK affirmed that Africa remains the focus for investment over the next five-year strategy period.

The CDC Group, UK’s development finance institution, exceeded its 2020 commitment to invest £2 billion in Africa over the last two years with a closing mark of £2.2 billion by the end of 2021. The growth in Britain’s investments in African businesses came amidst the unprecedented upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CDC is owned by the UK Government and it is regarded as a champion of the United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. All proceeds from investments are reinvested to improve the lives of millions of people in Asia and Africa.

To enhance UK-Africa partnerships, UK at the second AIC launched a new ‘Growth Gateway’ – a digital tool to link African and British businesses to UK Government trade, finance and investment services and opportunities.  The service provides practical online support to businesses in Africa that want to export to and invest in the UK, and businesses in the UK that want to export to and invest in Africa, backed up by a team of trade and investment specialists.

The second AIC highlighted Britain’s strategic plan to boost economic cooperation with African nations and enhance UK’s role as the continent’s investment partner of choice for greener, climate-friendly projects.

UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who hosted the one-day virtual event, said the cooperation aimed at further unlocking millions of pounds of new investment, especially in clean energy industries in both the UK and across Africa.

The second AIC highlighted Britain’s strategic plan to boost economic cooperation with African nations and enhance UK’s role as the continent’s investment partner of choice for greener, climate-friendly projects.

UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who hosted the one-day virtual event, said the cooperation aimed at further unlocking millions of pounds of new investment, especially in clean energy industries in both the UK and across Africa.

“There is so much more that the UK and African countries can do together. Growth Gateway will make it easier than ever for African and British businesses to access the support they need to boost two-way trade and investment,” Minister for Africa Vicky Ford said.

Her Majesty’s Acting Trade Commissioner (HMTC) for Africa, Alastair Long, recalled that in 2020, at the UK-Africa Investment Summit, the Prime Minister set out the UK’s ambition to be Africa’s investment partner of choice and it has continued to bring life to this ambition.

“Last year, we launched an online investment deal room to provide a platform for African projects to be showcased to UK investors. The deal room has already published over £350 million of vetted and investable opportunities to date.

“Clean growth is at the heart of the UK’s trade agenda, and with Egypt hosting COP27, today’s Africa Investment Conference will be an opportunity to explore inclusive, sustainable and resilient investment opportunities that can serve to help Africa transition to a cleaner and greener growth trajectory,” Long said.

Chief Executive Officer, CDC, Nick O’Donohoe said the company, which is to be renamed British International Investment (BII) by April 2022, said the rapidly pivoted supports for its portfolio and mitigated the economic fallout of the pandemic in the countries in which it invested.

According to him, the role of development finance institutions such as CDC was vital in supporting vulnerable countries that did not have the financial reserves to protect their economies.

“Moving forward, British International Investment intends to invest between £1.5 and £2 billion per annum between 2022 and 2026 to support the UK government’s Clean Green Initiative and to create productive, sustainable and inclusive economies in Africa, parts of Asia and the Caribbean,” O’Donohoe said.

The CDC made its largest-ever deal in Africa in 2021 in a partnership with DP World worth up to $1.7 billion – to significantly boost the continent’s ability to trade globally by expanding its port capacity. Other key investments include Liquid Telecom, that is building a pan-African fibre-optic network, and in the Global Partnership for Ethiopia, a consortium led by Vodafone to build a new, world class mobile network in Ethiopia.

Investing in clean infrastructure will be central to CDC’s strategy over the next five year period. At least 30 per cent of total investment by value will go into climate finance.

Among the major clean infrastructure investments made in Africa by the company over the last strategy period was a $100 million or £75.5 million commitment to the Nachtigal Hydro Power in Cameroon, $50 million or £36.8 million for the Malindi Solar Project in Kenya, which became operational recently and $50 million or £36.8 million for ACWA Power in South Africa.

Director and Head of Infrastructure Equity, Africa and Pakistan, CDC, Chris Chijiutomi, said clean infrastructure investment for the company will go beyond renewables as clean water provision, forestry and agritech, for example, will become increasingly important moving forward.

According to Chijiutomi , CDC continues to power Africa’s growth as evidenced in its investee company Globeleq which in 2021 succeeded in securing 1.4GW of wind and solar projects in South Africa.

In addition to investing in utility scale projects, CDC will prioritise technology-backed venture capital opportunities in smaller businesses that have the potential to deliver innovative, local solutions to mitigate the impacts caused by the climate crisis.

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