Nigeria’s Federal Government, apparently seizing the opportunity created by the London 2012 Olympic which has brought together both athletes and core investors into United Kingdom, Monday re-assured investors to make Nigeria their number one investment destination in Africa.
Delivering his keynote address during the Nigeria Business and Investment Summit in London Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan said there was greater opportunities for investment in power generation, transmission and distribution and that the entire country was going through transformational changes to accommodate all types of investors.
He said Nigeria was exploiting the opportunities which were abound in the mining and non-oil mineral sectors, as well as the processing of agricultural products, which add value to other produce. The event was put together by the Bank of Industry (BoI), Nigeria’s agencies dedicated to transforming the industrial sector and the Ministry of Trade and Investment.
The president, who was represented by the Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iwela, however, said though the country faces some challenges such as security, infrastructural development and bureaucratic bottlenecks that makes it difficult for investors to invest in the country, that efforts are being made to turn things around for better.
She said as part of the transformation agenda embarked by the Federal Government that they have started addressing those challenges head-on which has started yielding profits in different quarters.
On security, she said the first step was the adopting of three prong-strategies to deal with the issue.
This entails strong counter terrorism measure in conjunction with other international security agencies such as UK, US and France. There is also the economic inclusion which will focus on providing jobs, financial assistance for entrepreneurs and the use of political measures to combat crime.
According to her the administration is taking strong and decisive steps to combat corruption. “Following the government investigation on some questionable issues on oil subsidy, we have commenced legal proceedings to recover monies wrongly or fraudulently claimed and must bring the culprits to book,” the minister said.
Okonjo Iweala also told the gathering that the Federal Government was combating food import, which is also causing the nation a lot of revenue on an annual basis. To address other challenges such as power, she said government had recognised that the private sector had a major role to play in providing solutions to the challenges.
“In this regards the privatisation of our electricity generation, transmission and distribution companies is in full swing,” she said.
To ensure that investors gets value for money, the minister said government have put together a mechanism to purchase all power generation in addition to the implementation of a cost reflective tariff system amongst other reform plans.
“Let me assure you that our transformation agenda is in full steam to enable our achievement of long term development objective of becoming one of the top 20 economies in the world by 2020.
“The president is extremely attentive to the issue of power.
He is providing building blocks for the country to get there and privatise the power sector just like the telecom industry. We needed to put building blocks in place in order to tap our energy properly both for power, oil and gas,” she said.
Okonjo Iweala said certain things need to be done before the infrastructure will pick again.
“Before we were focusing on mega watts all the time without really laying out whether the building blocks are in place to actualise that.
“For the first time now, when we privatise we have the bulk trader which will guarantee the purchase of power. We now have the transmission lines owned by government but managed by the private sector and ensure that Nigerians are not cheated,” she said.
Furthermore, the minister said that there are opportunities for investment in education, health, agriculture, aviation, ICT and fast moving consumer goods. She said all these form the key thrusts of government’s transformational agenda and Nigeria’s Vision 2020 which the government and the private sector are working hard to actualise along with Nigeria’s international development partners.
In the same vein, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, while introducing the summit to investors, maintained that Nigeria is a country that is reform friendly and investment is a way out of the country’s problems.
He said Africa can only grow when they add value and create wealth with what they have.
“I have travelled to about 15 countries as a minister and I found out that investors want to come to Nigeria and the country is the preferred best nation on investment,” Aganga said.