The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria says Africa may need at least 40 to 50 billion dollars annually to finance its infrastructure development. Professor Chukwuma Soludo said no amount of foreign aid can help Africa overcome such a deficit. He said the answer to Africa’s infrastructure development challenge in the 21st century is the creation of an Africa Finance Corporation.
Soludo spoke in Washington over the weekend at the Fifth Nigeria Television Authority Lecture Series. He said Sub-Saharan Africa’s infrastructural development challenges are humongous.
“Africa as a region has the largest number of borders of any other region in the world. And if you talk about spatial distribution, it has the largest number of landlocked nations on earth. The cost of infrastructure, with the population dispersed, in terms of transportation facilities is quite extremely very expensive,” he said.
Soludo said Africa needs institutions like the Africa Finance Corporation (CFA) that would not only help to mobilize domestic financial resources, but also have the capacity to leverage on the global financial market.
“The Africa Finance Corporation is a statement by Africans that Africa is ready to do business. Africa is not only available for charity. Africa is ready to play by rules, and the African Finance Corporation comes in as a private sector-led Africa investment bank. It’s going to be modeled after the International Finance Corporation to leverage investment in critical infrastructure areas around Africa, areas of telecommunication, power, transportation, manufacturing, light scale agriculture, energy, and so on," Soludo said.
He called on Africans in the Diaspora to invest in the Africa Finance Corporation.
“If God in his infinite wisdom decided to make them Africans, there must be a purpose, and the place to show that is Africa not anywhere else. They should invest. It is meant for everybody, all Africans,” Soludo said.
The Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) sponsored the public lecture series. Its director, Tonnie Iredia, said he started the series after observing what he called a double disconnect between Nigerians at home and their government as well as Nigerians abroad and Nigerians at home.
“It was easy to observe a disconnect between our people and government. A lot of people, for example, go to election to vote for persons they don’t know, for persons whose capabilities they are not able to assess. And so we felt that one of the reforms that the NTA should be involved in should to create an avenue for exchange of ideas who have knowledge about a particular subject,” he said.
Iredia said the NTA public lecture series was also started to correct what he called an unwritten international conspiracy to project Africa and Nigeria in bad light.
“The international network as you all know spend very little time on Africa, and this little time they spend on Africa is completely devoted to negatives. Kwashiokor in Ghana, drought in Ethiopia, and famine in Niger. This is a very unfortunate development because it is not only negative things that happen in Africa. More importantly it is not only in Africa that negative things happen,” Iredia said.
He also said he started the NTA lecture series to correct other wrong impressions, including the fact that Nigeria and Africa are corrupt. Iredia said corruption is a two-way thing.
“I have taken some time to try to do some research into literature on corruption, and I discovered that there are 12 banks in Europe and America that are custodians of stolen Nigerian money. What that means therefore is that there are so many corrupt nations. The thief and the custodian of stolen goods are both thieves," Iredia said.
Nigerian Central Bank governor Soludo said the Africa Finance Corporation would be the continent’s first private sector-led investment bank with headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria. Soludo said the CFA has an authorized shared capital of two billion dollars with about one billion of that already mobilized for the CFA to commence operation.