Infrastructure without accompanying national productivity


When US President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 billion infrastructure package, public affairs analysts voiced their opinion that such spending is badly needed by the world’s largest economy. I have to say that infrastructure says a lot about a country. You will watch this from either the airports or the seaports. The sophistication of equipment and procedures. The quality of the people in these public places is part of the CF.

The need to fix Nigeria’s crumbling infrastructure has become a cliché. But that doesn’t change the fact that our infrastructure urgently needs to be modernized.

Some technology policy experts have always stated that any economic activity requires a developed infrastructure as a prerequisite for growth and industrialization.

Infrastructure, say these experts, refers to those facilities, structures and institutions whose inadequacy leads to the limitation of a society’s productive forces. These include, but are not limited to, scientific and technological institutions, educational institutions, basic industries, energy, transportation, communication networks, financial institutions, etc.

Related to a country’s industrial development strategy, experts have found that there is an opportunity to encourage the development of world-class infrastructures such as telecommunications, roads, railways and power supply, which are seen as vital to the effective operation of the industry.

I have also heard from some analysts that poor infrastructure facilities, a weak industrial base and constant power cuts are some of the factors that perpetuate Nigerian society’s backwardness. What a shame? But the views expressed by these analysts are very correct. Even state and federal officials have acknowledged at various times that there is an infrastructure deficit in Nigeria.

We have been told that Nigeria needs $1.5 trillion over 10 years to achieve any meaningful national infrastructure stock. Nigeria, we were told, is ready for investment in the country’s infrastructure development. Mr. President confirmed that his government has created a legal and regulatory framework for private infrastructure financing to establish a standard procedure, particularly for the monitoring and evaluation process. Excellent point!

In addition, Mr. President stated that his government has taken Nigeria’s infrastructure development seriously, bearing in mind that new investments in critical sectors of the country’s economy would help lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by 2030. Mr. President would not be in power. This raises the question of how 100 million Nigerians could be lifted out of poverty by a president whose government will not be in power beyond May 2023.

Despite our efforts to revolutionize infrastructure, the World Bank has forecast that inflation could push 91 million Nigerians below the poverty line between June 2020 and June 2021 due to the rise in food prices. With urban areas being disproportionately affected, the World Bank suggests there is a need for policymakers to formulate short-term measures to support citizens’ well-being. The well-being of the citizens is very important, because ultimately people will use and operate the infrastructure.

On Monday, March 28, 2022, terrorists attacked a Kaduna-bound passenger train leaving Abuja. Many passengers died in the attack. Some passengers were kidnapped, while others escaped with either injuries or no injuries. Did those in charge learn a lesson from the fact that the bombing of the train was demoralizing?

If those in charge have learned a lesson, it is that building infrastructure without simultaneous national productivity will not bring the desired economic growth.

Millions of children are not in school, while millions of our youth are unemployed. We cannot put millions of our youth out of work and talk about national productivity.

A nation’s productivity is measured by comparing the amount of goods and services produced to the inputs used in production.

At the heart of national productivity is the nation’s human capital. Productivity itself is a sum of applied technology, labour, capital and effective resource management.

So it can be said that company or national development depends on a high productivity index, which can only be achieved by an efficient workforce with modern technology.

If we look at the fragile state of our economy today, we have seen that infrastructure is necessary but not sufficient to address the country’s structural deficiencies. The nation’s structural deficiencies cannot be remedied by purchasing trains, building new roads and bridges, and opening airports alone.

Our problems are much deeper than what “infrastructure” alone can solve. Infrastructure alone cannot transform a nation’s industrial and economic activities.

We need good people who are inherently a part of national power. Most of our professionals leave the country in search of a better life elsewhere. But we look helpless. Who will operate and use infrastructure to create prosperity for citizens?

We read that the government has a 10-year national development plan. Any determined group of people who are able, willing and ready to use the resources at their disposal to carry out their evolutionary plan will never be disappointed as their rewards on Earth would be enhanced. The resulting productivity in turn ensures prosperity, peace and progress.

Also read: Activate red alert for aviation infrastructure, demands NANTA President FG

With a higher productivity index, the challenges we face as a nation will melt away. In the developed world of the world, the language of most boardrooms is, “You make or you die.” How do we improve our national productivity without adequate electricity supply?

With inadequate drinking water supplies in most states, inefficient waste disposal and transportation systems, and ill-equipped schools and hospitals, government attention cannot be limited to cleaning up our roads and railroads. Trains would be useful for a nation where goods are produced and distributed from rural to urban areas and vice versa.

Without this accompanying national productivity, the impact of the resources expended on rail, road and airport modernization will not be appreciated by most citizens. Nigerians must be involved in building infrastructure, not foreigners.

Recently, the National Bakers Association announced it could close its bakeries due to rising diesel and wheat costs. Through in-depth analysis, the relationship between infrastructure development and productivity demonstrates infrastructure development’s ability to ignite the “spirit of supply chain” of a local economy.

In developed countries, for example, you see excitement and progress within the economy because most individuals, ranging from SMEs to large corporations, are fully involved and integrated in achieving the government’s infrastructure goal.

In industrialized economies, raw materials are shipped into or produced with the local economy and transformed into end products that are used in the infrastructure development project that ultimately feeds that economy’s productivity index.

But what do we see in Nigeria? You see a complete reversal. In our country, both raw materials and finished products are imported. So what do we have?

Money generated leaves the local economy and is returned to another economy. Very worrying development.

If we are not strategic in developing our infrastructure, we can eventually create an atmosphere of declining productivity where our only gain is better trained bricklayers. Thanks.

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