‘Nigeria the Epicenter of Africa’s Economic Growth’

LNG plant in Nigeria

Leading market analysts and industry regulators have described Nigeria’s economic growth rate as exceptional, in spite of its huge infrastructure deficit, at a time of slow growth across developing economies.

At the 2012 Standard Bank West Africa Investors’ Conference in Lagos, stakeholders in the financial services industry said the prospects of the Nigerian economy as an investment haven have become brighter given the economic transformative agenda of the present government, especially its commitment to infrastructure development.

Chairman, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Mr. Atedo Peterside, noted that Nigeria had entered a critical phase during which it will accelerate the realisation of its vast economic growth potential due to the firm mandate of President Goodluck Jonathan, as well as the sound pedigree of his economic management team.

“If we can achieve a 7.9 per cent growth in 2011 with the existing low level infrastructure in an election year, you can imagine the growth level that will be achieved with the conclusion of the ambitious power sector reforms by the end of 2012. I am optimistic about Nigeria’s economic growth because emerging markets and frontier investors are increasingly looking at the growth stories in African economies with interest, and Nigeria is at the epicenter of this growth story,” he said.

On his part, Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Oscar Onyema, urged international fund managers to invest in Nigeria because of its market size, high growth rate, on-going economic reforms and exceptional risk adjusted returns on investment.

According to him, the cyclical market downturn experienced by the NSE provided an incredible opportunity for investors who desired a vehicle for long-term savings and access to capital, as well as efficient use of financial resources.

He expressed confidence that the equities market would recover its vibrancy and pave the way for Nigeria to become “the gateway to African markets.”

On her part, the Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms. Arunma Oteh, reiterated optimism about Nigeria’s economic growth, saying the inherent challenges in the economy should be seen as opportunities to invest in the country.

“I cannot think of a better time to invest in Nigeria. The government is more focused and committed to development. Equally, World Bank economists are very optimistic about growth in Africa. GDP growth for the region is expected to increase to 5.8 per cent in 2012, with Nigeria’s economy leading in growth, ” Oteh said.

The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, outlined the focus of the Ministry to change agriculture to a business, and encourage private sector participation across the value chain.

Represented by his Special Adviser, Mr. Kola Masha, the minister restated the government’s drive towards making Nigeria recapture its place as a leading agricultural economy. Nigeria, the minister said, was losing in excess of $10 billion annually, by virtue of its losing its 1970s market share in oil palm production, groundnut and cocoa. He concluded by advising investors who would have liked to invest in Brazil 10 years ago to invest in Nigeria today.