By Perpetua Onuegbu
Gov. Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State has called for more concerted effort, creative and innovative ideas from the World Council of Civil Engineers (WCCE) in reversing the infrastructure deficit in Africa.
Sule, made the call during the First Regional Summit of the WCCE in Abuja.
The summit has ”Infrastructure Deficit and the Challenges of Development in Sub-Saharan Africa,” as theme.
The governor who was Special Guest of Honour at the summit, said that Africa has infrastructure deficit challenges in housing, electricity, water and roads.
”Reversing the deficit will require the cooperation of engineers.
”I urge participants to look into the deficit challenges and come up with work plan that is implementable and sustainable,” he said
The governor said that the state government has concluded plans to invest in solid minerals and agriculture.
Sule therefore urged the private sector to support government and come up with ideas that would help government make policies that would create enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
Earlier, the Continental Representative of WCCE for Africa, Dr Aishatu Umar, said the huge economic and potential of the African continent was being hampered by infrastructure deficit wedge on the path of its growth and development.
Umar said constructing a sustainable infrastructure would be critical in supporting the continent in fulfilling its economic potential and helping to turn things around.
“Infrastructure is a key obstacle to growth and development and it has a detrimental impact on trade both inside and outside Africa.
“Inspite of possessing 12 per cent of the world’s population, Africa produces only one per cent of global GDP and two per cent of world wide commerce.
“The huge deficit of infrastructure in Africa is largely due to the fact that investments in infrastructure have consistently lagged behind demand, while about a third of rural population have access to roads.
“Only five per cent of agriculture is irrigated and less then 40 per cent of the population has power, the impact of the infrastructural deficit is disappointing ,” Umar said.
She therefore said the summit served as a crucial platform for engineers, policymakers and stakeholders from across the continent to converge and address the challenges impeding sustainable development in the continent.
Also speaking, Mr Emeka Ezeh, former President of the Nigerian Society of Engineering said one factor militating against Africa’s infrastructure is its economic geography characterised by low overall population density.
“Interregional connectivity is therefore very low whether measured in intercontinental highway links, power interconnections or fibre-optic backbones.
“Recognising the importance of adequate infrastructure services such as power, telecommunications, transport, water supply and sanitation for the development of industry and quality of life.
“Given the constraints on public budgets to finance these growing infrastructure needs, it is necessary that governments in Africa turn to the private sector to share in the burden of new infrastructure investments,” Ezeh advised.
Ezeh’s paper was titled ‘Promoting Sustainable infrastructure Development in Sub-Saharan Africa , Roles, Prospects, Challenges and Solutions. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Sadiya Hamza