Infrastructure is what makes nations great. Dubai was founded some thirty years ago. Today it is the most visited city on earth; displacing London, a city with thousands years history because of its infrastructural development.
In Western cities, sewage and water supply systems are mega projects that keep away cholera from the public.
The whole Netherlands would have been submerged without the North Sea Protection Works, which guards that low-lying country’s landscape.
Big infrastructure projects can also be economically transformative. For example the Panama Canal accounts for a significant share of the country’s GDP. Dubai’s international airport is the world’s busiest, accounting for 21 percent of Dubai’s employment and 27 percent of its GDP. And Hong Kong would grind to a halt without its clean and speedy subway system, which has enabled the densely packed city to build beyond the downtown districts.
According to World Bank, the world needs to spend about $57 trillion on infrastructure by 2030 to enable the anticipated levels of GDP growth globally.
Some of the mega projects are already in progress or nearing completion around the world. They are, the Aizhai suspension bridge valued at $600m in China, Marmaray tunnel $4.5bn in Turkey, FFR Grand Stade france $552m, Panama Canal expansion in Panama $5.25bn, the Gorges Dam China $22bn, Jubail industrial city Saudi Arabia $11bn, Liuchonghe bridge China, London Cross rail $23bn, Hyderabad metro $2bn, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge China $10.6bn, and Songjiang hotel China $538m.
Others are Russky bridge Russia 1bn, Etihad rail UAE $11bn, Al Maktoum airport UAE $31bn, Beijing Daxing airport China $13bn, New Century Global center China, Atlanta Falcons stadium $1.2 bn, Shanghai tower $2.4bn, Bay Bridge Eastern Span San Francisco $6.4bn, State Route floating bridge Seattle $2bn, Sky tree Japan $806m, Silverline Washington $6.8bn, and One world Trade Center New York $3.8bn.
Ask what Nigeria is building, and the answer is nothing. It has always been patch-patch work here and there on the express.
Nations don’t develop without the big stuff. Our leaders need to know this fact and act fast. More than half a century after independence, Nigeria only built one city, Abuja. China has built 15 cities in mere 10 years and moved 30 million rural people to live in them.
Out of world Bank global estimate on infrastructure spending, about two-thirds will be required in developing countries, where there are rising middle classes, population growth, urbanization, and increased economic activities.
These countries need infrastructure, but all too often, many years will pass and the promised road, bridge, and metro projects will not materialize because of corruption. Nigeria itself with large percentage of its annual budgets going to recurrent expenditures will contribute a paltry 0.19% to this target.
It is high time our leaders change their mentality and approach to development. They can borrow whatever amount and build. When you build the Africa’s biggest airport or longest subway, no one will laugh at you that it was built with borrowed money.
By Aliyu Nuhu