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 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 said.
He emphasised the importance of having a well educated, healthy and productive nation.
According to him, “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.
She cited 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. 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.
He 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.