Detail Solicitors, a top commercial law firm based in Lagos held its 5th Detail Business Series yesterday, the 16th of November 2015 at its serene offices located in Lekki, Lagos. The theme of the business series, Nigeria’s Infrastructure: What next, elicited very robust discussions and proffered solutions on bridging Nigeria’s infrastructure gap. Very apt industry-based persons who formed the panel of discussants were Ayuli Jemide, the lead partner of Detail Commercial Solicitors who chaired the panel and did a fantastic job in steering the direction of the discussion; Opuiyo Oforiokuma, the CEO/MD ARM-Harith Infrastructure Investment Ltd who with his current position and previous position as the first CEO/MD of the Lekki Concession Company (LCC), the first ever PPP Toll Road Concessionaire in Nigeria, brought practical insight into the discussion; and Wale Shonibare, the Deputy Group CEO/MD of United Capital Plc. Also among the discussants were Olufunke Jones, the Head, Power & Energy Ecobank Nigeria and Hakeem Olopade, an Executive Director in the Infrastructure Bank Plc. who represented Adekunle Oyinloye, the CEO/MD of the bank. Also represented was Patrick Mgbenwelu, the Director and Head, Project and Structured Finance of FBN Capital Limited.

The discussants touched on various notable issues including the need to look beyond Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) as the only solution to the infrastructure gap and begin to look at other options including private financing, funding infrastructure using local currency by encouraging aggressive savings policies, insurance sector mobilization as well as unlocking the potentials of the Pension Fund Administrators. On PPPs, the discussants spoke on different issues including proper risk allocation, project realism and preparation, sanctity of contracts, the legal and regulatory environment and proper use of our capital markets. On the legal and regulatory environments, it was agreed that PPPs can either be regulated by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) Act or by the contract. While some of the discussants held the view that the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) is an aberration and should be merged with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), others opined that the Commission still has a role to play and dispensing with it would amount to throwing the baby out with the bath water. Also touching on the role of banks, capacity building and collaboration were identified as the major challenges facing the banks in this regard. The need for financial institutions to develop strategies to build up their capacity internally and collaborate with fund managers was stressed. The role of Development and Finance Institutions (DFIs) most notably the African Development Bank (AfDB) in contributing risk capital in infrastructure development and financing was also considered.

It was a morning well spent and we are already anticipating the next Detail Business Series.