Nigerian construction firms have called on the federal government to protect their business from unfavorable competition from Chinese and other foreign construction companies by launching policies that would grant them access to funding and human capacity development.
The Managing Director of Dutum Company Limited, Mr. Temitope Runsewe, made the call at the sidelines of the West Africa Property Investment (WAPI) summit with the theme “Property Market Redefined,” which was held in Lagos between November 23 and November 24, 2021.
Runsewe said that enhancing the capacity of local construction firms in Nigeria would boost the country’s GDP and stem capital flight in the economy.
He said: “We are saying that Nigerian local construction companies are competing most of the time against the government of China. These Chinese companies show up with cheap funds from China and will tell our governments that they do not need any money from them to start a construction project. They will say to our government just show us the projects and we will mobilize ourselves and start constructing. This is extremely tempting and most of our government officials just fall for that to the detriment of building local capacity.
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“If we continue like that in the next 50 years we will have the Chinese doing barely everything in this country. So, the indigenous construction company must enjoy the support of the Nigerian government so that we can grow. This support is providing us with platforms, giving us opportunities, and providing funding that can make us compete. These foreign companies come to Nigeria with cheap funding at zero or one percent while we, as local construction service providers, cannot get the funds, or when we do we are getting them at 30 percent. You can see that we struggling to compete.”
Speaking in the same vein, the Chief Executive Officer of Purple, Mr. Olaide Agboola, said that the local construction firms are demanding policies that would grant them access to funding.
Agboola said: “This funding should be private sector-led but backed with government’s support. We are living in an environment where we know what happens to government funding. So, what we asking for is not to go and raise another set of public debt for the real estate. What government needs to do is to issue guarantees to qualified players in the real estate sector that will allow them to raise cheaper funding from the private sector.”