The process for the construction of the Second Niger Bridge remains on course with the signing of the concession agreement expected to be consummated in the second half of this year, the Managing Director, Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), operator of the Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), Mr. Uche Orji, has disclosed.
Speaking at a media briefing in Abuja weekend, Orji, who rekindled hope that the realisation of the project was still very much alive, noted that having successfully completed Early Works III (EW3) of the project in January 2016, coupled with the N17 billion allocation for the project in this year’s budget, the engagement towards facilitating financial closure had been given further impetus.
Orji said that once the concession agreement and supporting documents are executed, the project was expected to move to a financial close.
According him, the concession agreement for the public-private partnership (PPP) project was expected to be signed in the second half of 2016.
On investment commitments for the bridge, the NSIA chief executive, said in spite of the rather difficult economic and financial environment, there was sustained interest from investors outside the country.
He stated that an unnamed investor from the Middle East was also willing to be part of the funding, adding that he was excited by the fact that the project is well structured.
“It’s being well developed; it’s being well structured. With what has been done with the 2016 budget, I am impressed and confident that the project is on course,” Orji said.
On the performance of the NSIA in 2015, Orji said its audited financial results showed that total comprehensive income increased to N26.3 billion, compared to N15.7 billion in 2014, an increase of 67 per cent, adding that the investment income of the authority stood at N5.8 billion, while its total assets, which grew by 20 per cent, stood at N213.6 billion at the end of 2015.
Orji further disclosed that $250 million additional capital was approved for allocation to NSIA, which was received in February 2016 and would be invested within the new fiscal year. The additional $250 million, he clarified, will be invested in the subsisting structure with the Future Generation Fund getting 20 per cent, Stabilisation Fund – 40 per cent and the Infrastructure Fund – 40 per cent.
According to him, in 2015, the NSIA also deepened its investments in Nigeria-based private equity and fund managers.
“Private equities are people who seek opportunities in private markets and invest over time and get returns. This has been one of the most successful asset classes of investment in the world, the difference, however, is that they invest over three to four years and start giving returns.
“We believe it is one of those things that will help the Nigerian capital market develop significantly and will earn us significant amount of returns.
“We on-boarded five private equity (PE) fund managers, four are Nigerian-based portfolio managers in private equity, bringing our total commitment to private equity to 24,” he said.
Orji added that a key area where the NSIA showed a strong presence in 2015 was the framework for co-investments to bring other investors to partner the authority to invest in the projects.
“The first we arrived at was in real estate and we expect that it will be operational in the second half of this year,” he said.
“This would be used as a strategy for other segments like power, agriculture and health care to help channel investments from outside into the country.”
Orji, who observed that the 2015 fiscal year was hallmarked by high volatility and global market uncertainty, added that in spite of the challenges, NSIA still recorded an overall positive result.
In health care, he said within the period, the NSIA advanced its health care investment programme, which involved the development of five modern medical diagnostic centres and a specialist hospital across the six geo-political zones of the country.
“Till date, the NSIA has approached 14 federal health care institutions across the country and signed seven Memoranda of Cooperation (MoC) with as many,” Orji disclosed.