Nigeria remains best Investment Destination in Africa, FG tells Investors
Key foreign investors, who met at various meetings with the Nigerian Government delegation to the United Nation’s General Assembly in New York during the week, expressed interest in scaling up investment in Nigeria.
At an Investors Roundtable held under the auspices of the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), the investors said Nigeria remains the best investment destination in Africa with enormous natural and human resources,.
They believe Nigeria’s current government continues to show a commitment to creating a conducive business environment in the country.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who gave the opening remarks at the event, appreciated the interest the investors are continuing to show in Nigeria and thanked them for their willingness to spread the good news to others about the opportunities Nigeria offers to investors.
Senator Udoma said Nigeria’s President Mohammadu Buhari had promised the people that he will restore peace in the troubled zones of the country, fight corruption and grow the economy. “The Buhari administration has worked hard to ensure that those election promises are fulfilled,” he said.
“The present government inherited a challenged economy with very weak fundamentals, but has worked hard towards not only getting the economy out of recession, but placing it on a path of sustained inclusive growth through a series of policy initiatives and deliberate actions”, the Minister said.
Diligent implementation of the initiatives, he said, has resulted in the economy emerging from recession within a short time and beginning to grow again. He emphasised the fact that Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (the ERGP) is anchored on partnership with the private sector with the Government helping to create the enabling environment.
That is why the government is focused on improving the country’s infrastructure and creating an environment with improvements in the ease of doing business, to encourage and attract local and global investors. Government is also focused on social development by increasing investments in education and health so as to improve the quality of the country’s education and health facilities. He emphasised the importance of having a well educated, healthy and productive nation.
There is no cause for investors to worry about the next year’s general elections, the minister told the gathering, as there will be no slow-down in the implementation of government programmes and policies in the period leading up to the elections; as he explained that the ERGP is a medium term economic blueprint which runs through 2020.
The Plan, he explained was produced after extensive consultations with all the relevant sectors, including the sub national governments, private sector, academia, development partners and civil society organizations; and was endorsed by the National Assembly and the National Economic Council, among others. “It is a Nigerian document, accepted by all Nigerians,” he said.
Finance Minister, Mrs Zainab Ahmed who spoke after Senator Udoma, explained that significant progress has been made with the implementation of many of the policy initiatives of government, citing the stabilization of the country’s currency, consistent downward trending of inflation, increased foreign reserves, fiscal discipline in government, and a commitment to creating a conducive business environment. There has also been increased revenues, she said. These developments have helped in increasing investor confidence in Nigeria, she added.
The Finance Minister said government officials are under instruction from the President to stay focused on the business of governance notwithstanding the upcoming elections.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, also spoke along similar lines.
He pointed out that the Federal Government has been working with the sub national governments and the National Assembly to introduce measures to improve the enabling environment for doing business; and indicated that these efforts have been acknowledged by the World Bank which, in 2017, rated Nigeria as one of the ten most reforming countries in the world.
He also spoke about the determination of the Government to develop world class Special Economic Zones in each of the six geopolitical regions of the country in partnership with the state governments and the private sector.
Dr Enelamah concluded his remarks by emphasising that Ministers in the Government are here to serve, and are easily accessible to address any problems investors may experience.
Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, confirmed that State governments have been working closely with the Federal Government through the National Economic Council to create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the country. “States are the laboratories where all Federal Government policies are being implemented. They are the platforms for practicalising the policies and initiatives brewed in Abuja” he said.
The sub national governments are also driven by a sense of urgency to grow the economy, Obaseki said. His priority, as a governor, is to build the capacity of his people and attract investment to his state which is strategically located as the gateway to both the eastern and western parts of the country, as well as the North central region, he said.
The event which was organized by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and was moderated by Peter Tichansky, the President and Chief Executive Officer of BCIU. It was attended by more than 31 international organizations, including chief executive officers and representatives from Shell Oil Company, Walmart, Motorola Solutions, Coca Cola, Boeing International, United Arab Emirates, Procter and Gamble, AAR Corporation, 3M, APR Energy, Gilead Sciences, SAAB Middle East and Africa, American Tower Corporation, Oliver Wyman Corporation, Rendeavour, IMS Engineers, Credence ID, Abbott Laboratories, Medtronic, Lafarge CIM Nigeria, Flour Mills of Nigeria, Olam Nigeria and ACIOE LLC, among others.
The Edo State Governor and the Ministers on Wednesday evening participated in the Zenith Global Economic Forum on “Nigeria Open for Business,” attended by foreign investors, as well as some Nigerian business leaders. Those at the Forum included the Ministers of Budget and National Planning; Finance; Industry, Trade and Investment; Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola; Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele; Channels TV Chairman, Mr John Momoh; Thisday Newspapers’ Chairman, Prince Nduka Ogbaigbena; Chairman of Coronation Capitals, Mr Aigboje Imuokhuede; United Nations representatives in Nigeria and Zenith Bank Chairman, Mr Jim Ovia, among others.
On Thursday, Senator Udoma, Mrs Ahmed, Mr Emefiele, the Director of the Debt Management Office, Mrs Patience Oniha and the Executive Secretary of NIPC, Ms Yewande Sadiku, had a series of one-on-one and conference call meetings with more than eight high rate investors to explain current happenings in the country as it affects foreign investments in Nigeria and assured them of policy consistency, adherence to global best practices and the safety of their investment in the country.