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“We Will Invest $200m In Nigeria’s Health Sector”- NSIA

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The National Sovereign Investment Authority NSIA has announced that it will invest more than $200 million in Nigeria’s health sector.

Uche Orji, the Authority’s Managing Director, made the announcement on Thursday at the Presidential Media Team’s weekly ministerial briefing.

He stated that plans are in the works to raise the funds in partnership with some interested investors, and that he is hopeful that something exceptional will be accomplished this year.

According to Orji, “NSIA can sponsor, we can co-develop and we can just invest. We are looking at all three options; the more difficult ones, we will do ourselves and the easier ones we will look at some companies that already have existing infrastructure and work with them.

“Some of these infrastructure is just so archaic and so far behind and it is better to just build them brand new, like we did with the Cancer center in Lagos University Teaching Hospital, we just demolished it and started afresh. So these are all things we need to do but we have established the fact that it is important, we will do that and I am certain we will complete something in healthcare this year.

“We are trying to raise a $200 million fund; not just us, there are other investors that have indicated interest so the documentation for getting the third party funds is ongoing.”

Healthcare Investment Company

Orji disclosed that so far, the NSIA has been able to do three major things in the health sector through its Healthcare Investment Company.

“There are three things we have done in healthcare. First of all, the NSIA has a Healthcare Investment Company, through which we initially wanted to tackle all the challenges in the health sector but we realized that if you take it all at once, you are probably not going to succeed.

“So, we decided to do two things, first of all, you showcase an area that is of interest to Nigerians and we took cancer and we went to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and said can we take over your cancer center and rebuild it? Secondly, we now built two world class diagnostic and radiology centers in Kano and Umuahia.

“I am happy to report that those centers have been successful. Initially we hired a management team from South Africa, but it didn’t work, we fired them and built our own management team. At the moment all these are working well; the health company, LUTH cancer center and the diagnostic centers,” he said.

Cancer centers

The NSIA Chief Executive Officer also announced that the organization will soon build 20 cancer centers across the country.

“Our objective now is to build 20 more of these centers across the country. We are starting this year with three; we are going to roll out seven more centers next year, then another 10 the following year. So there will be 20 of these centers across the country and it’s everything from cancer to radiology and diagnostics but then our flagship programme is a world class hospital that we are building here in Abuja and that will be the center for advanced medicine,” he said.

Roads Infrastructure

On other areas that the NSIA is intervening, he listed the Lagos-Ibadan and the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano expressways as well as the second Niger Bridge as the main interventions of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

He emphasized that all projects carried out by the NSIA are the President’s legacy projects and the inauguration of many of them would be done next year.

He said: “In terms of the footprints of our investment through the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), these are the President’s legacy projects and we are just there as managers of those projects.

“The PIDF was set up in 2018 with an objective of attacking certain areas where we have been stuck as a country. There were some projects that have been on the drawing board for 40 or 50 years, no movement. So, the President decided to isolate them from the current process and create a new funding mechanism to make those projects move faster.

“Second Niger bridge for example, has been on the drawing board since 1976 and there was no movement on that project until the PIDF was effectively set up; Lagos-Ibadan expressway faced a similar type of circumstances; Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road, these are project that have been stuck, Mambilla hydro power project us also there, everybody knows that we need to re do them to make sure that we drive economic activity a bit more effectively.

“So PIDF was set up as a mechanism that creates a vehicle that takes government contribution, NSIA’s contribution and opens the door for investors to come in as a way to make sure we finish these roads on time and the progress has been quite impressive.”

He disclosed that N206.2 billion was budgeted for the 2nd Niger Bridge and so far, N132.7 billion has been released, adding that the bridge would be inaugurated in 2022.

For the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Orji disclosed that Lagos-Ibadan, spanning 127 kilometers, N311.4 billion was earmarked and so far, N90.8 billion has been released and the project would be completed in July 2022.

He said the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano expressway, covering a distance of 375 kilometers will gulp the sum of N155.72 billion but so far, N111.1 billion has been released for the project.

Fertilizer Production

The Managing Director also informed Journalists that the NSIA is intervening in the agriculture sector through the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, which has been able to make the product available to farmers.

He said over 40 blending plants, hitherto moribund, have been activated thus, making fertilizer affordable to farmers and generating employment in the process.

“The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative has been truly revolutionary; it has achieved a number of objectives. We have now revived the domestic fertilizer blending industry. Before PIDF started, a bag of fertilizer was around N13, 000, it was scarce and there was no domestic blending industry at all.

“But post-PIDF we have achieved the following; the number of domestic blending plants involved in the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative has now gone up from seven to 47. It was a completely dead and moribund industry but it has now been revived,” he said.

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