Opportunities for PPP deals in Enugu, a second-tier Nigerian city

By Bryan

I was born in the South-Eastern Nigerian city of Enugu, with a population of about 3 million, and several other significant features:

  • A hilly terrain (Enugu means “hilltop”)
  • A rich bed of natural resources, specifically coal
  • A relatively homogenous population, a direct result of Enugu’s location in the Igbo tribe-dominated South-East of Nigeria
  • An up-and-coming movie industry scene (Enugu has been called the center of Nigeria’s burgeoning ‘Nollywood’ film industry’)

I return to the city around once every two years, and have been able to follow its development from a traditional ‘coal city’ resource-exporter to a diversified city with the makings of top-tier Nigerian city. One of my visions for the city’s future is for it to develop into the central city of Nigeria’s East and a solid rival to the commercial center of Nigeria, Lagos city.

Mezu - Enugu

Enugu hilly terrain

Mezue - roads

Enugu roads

The good news is that Enugu’s current governor has shown a strong appetite for long-term infrastructure investments to help transform the city into a tier one city. In the context of the Sustainable Cities course, I see several opportunities for private sector involvement in Enugu:

  • Roads: Enugu’s roads have already seen massive transformation in the past 5 years with some major roads widened to double lanes and new roads constructed into rural areas. As the government accelerates this rollout there should be space for expertise and capital from private players, especially in the more difficult terrain in the hilly outskirts of the city.
  • Residential Real Estate: Enugu has been called a ‘civil servant’ city, a reflection of its economy’s reliance on government jobs and its traditional strength in sectors such as education and healthcare. One of the benefits of this status is that many residents of the city have steady incomes and are willing to invest in real estate. In addition, the increasing migration of people from rural areas into Enugu means that there is scope for a public-private partnerships to develop new flats and houses – for both the new buyers and low-cost renters.
  • Rail: Enugu is conveniently located to the trade cities of the South-East, and there are old railway lines (originally constructed by the British) linking the city to the North and the West of Nigeria. These lines have not been maintained and there is a role for a private player to partner with the government to bring them into the modern age.
  • Power: The power sector in Nigeria is nationally regulated, and there is a strong bias towards the petroleum industry (oil accounts for ~70% of the government’s revenue). One of the overhanging political conversations centers on the role of Enugu’s rich coal resources, which are currently less attractive due to pollution concerns. However, there might be some role for clean coal technology providers.
  • Airport: The Enugu airport is being currently transformed into an international airport.

One of the biggest challenges to a PPP deal negotiated with a second-tier developing market city such as Enugu is enforceability. Enugu can learn a lot from Chinese second tier cities, such as Changsha where I visited during an IXP trip last month, and where there is clear alignment between central and local government, yet enough independence at the local level to drive visionary change. Specifically there might be a role for Chinese private sector players to partner with the local government for new projects.



Paving the Path to Prosperity in Lagos, Nigeria

By Jessica Asinugo

With an estimated 12 million residents, Lagos is poised to become Africa’s most populous city by 2015. Lagos is the commercial capital of Nigeria, home to some of country’s most important ports and trade zones.

Over the years, despite the city’s massive population growth and resulting need for urban planning and transportation-related investment, poor leadership led to a dilapidated transportation network that was severely ill-equipped to support its population. Up until the early 2000’s, Lagos roads were dominated by millions of private passenger cars, danfo’s (large buses),  molue’s (small buses), car taxi’s, and okada’s (dare-devil motorcycle taxis). The incredibly high volume of vehicles on the road each day, coupled with the poor vehicle-quality and limited road network, led to a transportation system that on a good day, could be described as crippled, and on a bad day, as paralyzed. I can personally remember days when it took us up to 3 hours to get to a destination that was merely 30 miles away – and one can only imagine the degree of air pollution that loomed in the city. One segment of the society did however benefit from the congested traffic situation – the street merchants. Each day, thousands sellers both young and old, would take advantage of the stand-still traffic, selling door-to-door anything from candy bars, to stereo systems, to puppies. Indeed, to cut it as a Lagos-driver one had to maintain the right balance of aggression and quick reflexes – and with no available emergency medical services in case of any accidents, you made your way through the city each day on a wish and a prayer.

Fortunately, the 2000’s brought with it strong leadership with a strategy to focus on transportation infrastructure development as a key lever to drive overall economic development in the city. Some of the key projects and policies implemented by states leadership include:

  • Massive road expansion
  • Implementation of Lagos Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT)
  • Commission of Lagos Lite Rail
  • Ban of non-roadworthy public transportation vehicles
  • Replacement of okada’s with keke napep’s (three wheeled vehicles)

These solutions have tremendously improved the transportation situation; however, significant challenges remain. Similar to the case in Bogota, some of these solutions were only partially implemented, resulting in a system that is still inefficient. Okada’s, molue’s and danfo’s can still be found on the streets, because the BRT and keke napep’s could not fully absorb the total ridership demand. Although many roads have been expanded, adequate investment has not been made to develop alternate routes, such as new roads and overhead bridges. And given the country’s paradoxical position of suffering from chronic fuel shortages despite being one of the world’s top oil producers, any policies to that would promote a fuel tax increase as a lever to curb the number of vehicles on the road would be met with massive protests.

It is important to note that the benefits of successful implementation of transportation projects in any developing country goes beyond improving travel-time savings; it is the backbone that will facilitate economic development, and it serves as a strong signal to the international community that the country is a place where public private partnerships can be successful.

Lagos BRT Jessica

Lagos BRT

Lagod Keke Napep Jessica

Keke Napep