by Kevin Rozario (London, United Kingdom) – research support from Omoh Anna Ohiomoba (Vancouver, Canada)
It is coming up to four years since Nigeria’s government first offered up a privatization plan for its outdated airports. Attracting foreign investors was considered the best way to modernize the country’s key gateways and bring them up to international standards.
Nigeria’s ‘big four’ international airports – Lagos Murtala Muhammed (LOS), Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikiwe (ABV), Port Harcourt (PHC), and Kano’s Mallam Aminu (KAN) – were being prepared for a multi-airport sell-off in the form of a 50-year concession. All of them are 100% government-owned and operated by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN). The statutory body runs all the country’s 26 public airports.
Last year, AirportIR.com listed a series of issues that delayed the privatization process. These ranged from a legal action at LOS about an existing concession at the domestic terminal to union opposition over fears about job losses which persist today. Worries that there is insufficient independent oversight of the project also remain.
The Muhammadu Buhari administration is actively welcoming international investment in Nigeria on a very broad basis. In July Buhari said: “There is no way a country can develop if it is hampered by severe deficits in infrastructure.” He specifically referenced China’s role in helping to reversing these so-called deficits in the areas of rail, roads, airports and power.