Charlie Robertson, chief economist at the emerging markets investment firm, said the $1.9 billion standard gauge rail project — designed to link Nigeria with neighbouring Niger Republic — was unlikely to yield any profit.
“I can’t see that investment making money,” BusinessDay reported Mr. Robertson to have said during a virtual summit last month.
In a follow-up comment on the matter, the Rencap official queried why Nigeria would spend billions of American dollars to build a rail line to its impoverished West African neighbour.
“I’ve been struggling to understand why Nigeria would spend $2bn getting a Portuguese firm to build a railway line (Kano to Maradi in Niger) to one of the poorest nations on earth,” Mr. Robertson tweeted on January 12. “This story suggests politics and oil from Niger to Katsina is part of it,” his tweet added.
The President Muhammadu Buhari administration had last month signed a Memorandum of Understanding with construction firm, Mota-Engil Group, for implementation of the lavish project which was approved by the Federal Executive Council last September.
Mr. Buhari has been widely excoriated for allotting such a humongous sum to the project, at a time the country was bereft of sufficient resources to fund critical infrastructure.
Transport minister Rotimi Amaechi, however, explained that the rail line, which is expected to travel through Kano, Kastina and Jigawa in Nigeria’s Northwest to Maradi in Niger Republic, would enhance bilateral trade and position Nigeria as a commercial hub for Niger.