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Jack of all trade or best practices: Addressing Infrastructure Development Gaps in Nigeria

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

As African countries continue to ramp up their infrastructure development efforts, it is imperative to carefully examine the approach to implementation, particularly with China as a partner, and the critical need for general oversight.


This article examines the partnership between China and Nigeria, for example, presents tremendous opportunities for infrastructure development, but it also highlights the risks of relying too heavily on the 'jack of all trades' approach, which can result in significant gaps and inefficiencies in the long run. To ensure the success of these projects and promote sustainable development, a more focused and strategic approach is needed, along with increased oversight to address gaps in implementation and mitigate risks."


As infrastructure development continues to accelerate in many African countries, Nigeria remains a significant opportunity for investors and development partners. However, the blueprint of development may still have gaps that need to be addressed. In particular, the jack of all trade mentality and lack of general oversight can lead to substandard infrastructure and limited long-term benefits.


The blueprint of development may still have gaps that need to be addressed. In particular, the jack of all trade mentality and lack of general oversight can lead to substandard infrastructure and limited long-term benefits.

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, has a vast infrastructure deficit that requires significant investments in sectors such as power, transportation, water, and housing. Despite various efforts by successive governments, the country has not been able to achieve significant progress in infrastructure development. The government has tried to address the infrastructure gap through partnerships with foreign entities, including China, one of the largest investors in infrastructure development in Nigeria.

China Investment


China has invested heavily in Nigeria's infrastructure, including rail lines, airports, and ports. However, the investments have been criticized for lacking transparency, accountability, and sustainability. Chinese firms often employ a "jack of all trades" approach, where they handle multiple aspects of a project, including design, construction, and financing. This approach can lead to lower quality work and a lack of specialized expertise.


Furthermore, the lack of general oversight can result in cost overruns, delays, and corruption. For example, the Nigerian government has been criticized for inadequate oversight of Chinese construction firms, leading to low-quality work and allegations of corruption. Additionally, the Nigerian government has not adequately enforced environmental and social regulations, leading to negative impacts on local communities.

Addressing gaps in infrastructure development


To address these gaps, Nigeria needs to adopt best practices in infrastructure development. The government should establish clear regulatory frameworks and standards to guide the selection, implementation, and monitoring of infrastructure projects. The government should also ensure that projects are transparent, accountable, and sustainable, with a focus on long-term benefits.


Nigeria needs to adopt best practices in infrastructure development.”

In addition, Nigeria should engage with development partners who have a track record of successful infrastructure development. Such partners should provide specialized expertise in design, construction, financing, and operation of infrastructure projects. Nigeria should also prioritize capacity building to develop local expertise in infrastructure development.

Finally, Nigeria should enhance its oversight and regulatory capacity to ensure that infrastructure projects meet environmental and social standards. The government should enforce regulations to prevent negative impacts on local communities, promote transparency, and prevent corruption.


Achieve sustainability


In conclusion, Nigeria's infrastructure deficit provides a significant opportunity for development partners and investors. However, to achieve sustainable infrastructure development, Nigeria needs to adopt best practices in infrastructure development and engage with specialized partners. The government should also enhance its regulatory and oversight capacity to ensure that infrastructure projects are transparent, accountable, and sustainable, with a focus on long-term benefits for all stakeholders.


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