Intensified use of generators…an awful testimony to Nigeria’s poor power infrastructure A Damning Rating of Nigeria’s Infrastructure

A report on the status of Nigeria’s infrastructure, which the Nigerian Society of Engineers released last week in Abuja, says within the last two years, between 2015 and 2017, the country recorded a two-point drop in the rating of its infrastructure. The 2017 National Infrastructure Report Card Rating and Analysis analysed comprehensively the state of public infrastructure in Nigeria in the areas of health, security, transport, power, oil and gas, communication, social/mass housing, education, agriculture, tourism, water and sanitation, as well as infrastructure for emergency responses. It stated that overall, the rating of the national infrastructure was F1, meaning they are “unfit for purpose”.

The report came just when the government through the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, repeatedly said the government’s financial investment and commitment to infrastructure had increased and was second to none since 2015. The report card was, nonetheless, clear in its ratings of the different aspects of Nigeria’s infrastructure.

The report was presented to President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonanya Onu, by the immediate past president of NSE, Mr. Otis Anyaeji, during the ceremonial investiture of Mr. Adekunle Mokuolu as the 31st President of the NSE.

Poor Operations and Maintenance

The report explained that the latest rating of the country’s infrastructure was informed by poor operations and maintenance standards, adding that of all the infrastructure categories it analysed, only those of the oil and gas sector were seen to be the best performing within the period.

It questioned claims by Fashola late last year that the government spent 30 per cent of its earnings within the year on infrastructure as one of the measures to get the country out of recession.

Fashola had said at the Nigeria Mining Week in 2017 that the government was focusing on mining and agriculture to revive the economy, which had slipped into recession in 2016, but has since exited. He had said, “We have come out of recession. We spent almost 15 per cent of what the country earned on infrastructure. The allocation was doubled to 30 per cent in 2017, about N1.2 trillion on capital projects. It was the first time that amount of money was spent on capital projects.

“Construction industry itself, which had been in negative growth, started picking up as a result of the implementation of the budget.”

Fashola equally noted that the government had its eyes on some top power projects, such as the Mambilla and Zungeru hydro power plants, to improve Nigeria’s power infrastructure base. He also repeatedly said at meetings that investments in road and bridges, mass housing, and power infrastructure were high on the government’s priority list, and were getting funding to advance them.

But the NSE infrastructure report card, which release coincided with an online ranking of Nigeria’s power sector as the world’s second worst after Yemen, showed otherwise.

Specific Ratings

The NSE report concentrated on key aspects of Nigeria’s national infrastructure, using seven distinct criteria for assessment – capacity and adequacy, budget allocation, future plan, operations and maintenance standards, safety standard, reliability, and modernisation. The seven parameters it used were reportedly adapted from the United States Infrastructure Grading Criteria, and they involved a cumulative grading on point averages. In general, it stated that the state of infrastructure in Nigeria was on decline, while funding on some infrastructure by the government was inadequate and made little difference to close the gaps noticed.

On housing, the report stated that the present state of social mass housing in Nigeria was deplorable, and that 64.2 per cent of the country’s city dwellers lived in slums with inadequate living conditions. According to it, the lack of adequate housing infrastructure and planning has resulted in deforestation, congestion, poor health, and poverty. The reported added that Lagos, the commercial hub of Nigeria, had a quality of life of 0.63, compared to Paris which has 0.93, and London with 0.90 in line with the UN-Habitat rankings. It noted that demands for social and affordable housing had never been met, and this had left Nigeria with a deficit of 17 million housing units.

The report stated, “Authorities are ambitious about bridging this gap. Only in this year’s budget, N41 billion ($144 million) against N1.8 billion budgeted in 2015, was appropriated to ‘lead the aggressive intervention to increase housing supply’. This is estimated to fund building of 261,516 housing units by the end of the year. The problem is that it would take about four years to build one million housing units recommended annually at this rate, which implies that this problem would not go away in the nearest future due to lack of funding.”

It also rated the country’s power infrastructure low on progress, adding that it dropped from its E1 rating level (poor state) to F2 (unfit for purpose, which means that infrastructure has failed or is on the verge of failure, exposing the public to health and safety hazards. Immediate attention required). The power sector, it noted, has received greater attention from the government, but the capacity and reliability of its infrastructural provisioning remains in serious doubt.

It said, “To put the country’s power sector in perspective, Nigeria has a per capita power consumption of only 151kWh per year, which is amongst the lower end of the spectrum in Africa.”

Turning to the country’s security infrastructure, the report slammed it with a F3 score (unfit for purpose), adding that the F3 score is the lowest in the scale and signified the infrastructure has failed and is exposing the public to safety risk. It explained that apart from the general decline in the country’s infrastructure, the law courts and prisons recorded poor outings despite respondents’ high ratings of budgetary provisions to the sector.

“Nigeria seems deficient on many fronts when compared with some countries of its standing in terms of effective policing. With a population of 50.58 million people and police strength of 157,518, South Africa has a police-population ratio of 1:321 while that of Nigeria is 1:432. In 2013, the South African government allocated $7.39 billion to its police institution while Nigerian budget for the year was $1.93 billion,” it added.

For the country’s educational infrastructure, the report accorded it a F2 score, which means it is unfit for purpose, and said the deplorable state of the education infrastructure was evidently linked to its underfunding and understaffing. It explained that while the UNESCO recommended a budget allocation of 26 per cent of annual national budget to the education sector, Nigeria only dedicated 6.1 per cent of its budget sum to the sector in 2017.

For agriculture, which the government has made the central focus of its economic diversification plan, the NSE report said its infrastructure was not fit for purpose with a F1 score. It added that the agricultural infrastructure rated in this category were food grain storage facilities, food processing facilities, and irrigation infrastructure. It also said the crisis in the oil market had forced the government to turn to agriculture but that decades of the country’s reliance on oil had done very heavy damage to agriculture, saying it would need sustained commitment to get it back to a good level.

Another critical infrastructure, which was assessed and rated by the NSE, was the information technology infrastructure, which got an E3 score, meaning that it is on a poor state and on the verge of failure.

For the country’s oil and gas infrastructure, the report said it was poor and on the verge of failure and require urgent rehabilitation to prevent it from complete collapse or failure. The ratings on the sector covered oil and gas pipeline infrastructure, exploration and production infrastructure, as well as petroleum refining infrastructure, out of which it explained that only exploration and production facilities were rated the best performing.

Assessment Procedure

The report explained that 1,661 responses were obtained from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, with a larger percentage of responses coming from Lagos, Abuja, Rivers, Delta and Kaduna. It also had select sector experts analyse the findings, and their independent perspectives reflected in the report as anecdotes.

The report said, “The scope of the National Infrastructure Report Card rating is defined to assess selected infrastructure at national level rather than regional/state-wise. Therefore, the results presented provide a national perspective to the state of Nigeria’s infrastructure systems.

“The overall rating of Nigeria’s infrastructure was F1 – unfit for purpose. This rating is a further drop by two points for E2 in the previous rating carried out two years ago (2015). This rating generally portrays a perceived decline in the state of Nigeria’s Infrastructure.”

It further explained, “Expectedly, therefore, participants are key stakeholders or opinion leaders whose input and involvement in the sub-sector is significant enough to be able to influence the provision or public perception of the standard of service or performance of the infrastructure.

by Chineme Okafor ThisDay

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