Nigeria’s central bank has secured government approval to set up a 15-trillion naira ($39.4 billion) infrastructure development company with the sovereign wealth fund to invest in the country’s transport network, the bank said.
The sum is projected to cover an initial five-year period, Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele said in a statement on the central bank’s website.
The current poor state of infrastructure puts the plans of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government – including ambitions to turn Nigeria into a manufacturing hub and for the agriculture sector to fuel economic growth – at risk, economists say.
The development company will be co-owned by the central bank, the sovereign wealth fund and the African Finance Corporation (AFC) and will be managed independently.
In 2017, the government set up the Development Bank of Nigeria to boost credit to small-scale businesses that make up almost of half of the economy.
Now, the government wants to fix its crumbling roads and rail network to tackle decades of decay that has limited economic growth and made it hard to move agricultural and finished goods to markets.
Buhari has pledged to strengthen the agricultural sector, to reduce Nigeria’s costly food imports and diversify the economy away from an over-reliance on oil. But access to long-term funds in local currency has been a major hurdle.