Saturday, 22 September 2007

‘Why Nigeria’s Preferred Investment Destination’

From Paul Ibe in Guangzhou, China

The prevailing political stability in the country, huge returns on investment, the strengthening of public/private partnership and commitment to ongoing reforms are some of the factors that make Nigeria a preferred investment destination.This view was underscored in separate presentations by the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Chief Charles Ugwu and Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Engr. Mustafa Bello at the 5th Sino-Nigeria Business and Investment Forum (NBCIF), which ended yesterday in Guangzhou, China.

Addressing the second plenary session of the 5th NCBIF at the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou, Ugwu said that though conditions precedent for attracting investment into the country exist, the Federal Government is working tirelessly to ensure that the enabling environment surpasses benchmarks elsewhere.“The environment that exists in our country is a safe one, the polity is stable, as we have just concluded a civilian-to-civilian transition and the opportunities that exist are tremendous,” the minister told the huge gathering of Chinese investors and Nigerian businessmen.He said that the consolidation of the banking and insurance sectors has put the Nigerian banks in good stead to provide the requisite financial services that will ensure the sustenance of Chinese businesses.

The Minister, who is also the leader of delegation, said that with returns of investment of 35-40 per cent and even as high as 70 per cent in some sectors, Nigeria presents one of the highest returns on investment (ROI) globally.He reaffirmed the commitment of the Federal Government to promoting peace and security in the country, and the safeguarding of investments.He said that the market for prospective Chinese investors desirous of coming into Nigeria is readily adding that such investors could also use the country as a foothold to access the West African sub-regional market.He listed the sectors yearning for investments to include agriculture, pharmaceuticals, ICT, tourism, power, solid minerals and oil and gas among others.

The minister, however, emphasized the need for Chinese investments in the development of the petrochemical sector because of its multiplier effect on other sectors of the economy.Using the pure water example, he said that producers of that commodity 500,000 tonnes of cellophane in the first six months, a figure which increased to 1.6 million tones at the end of the first year. He, however, regretted that this important component of pure water is still being imported.

He called on Chinese investors to make good the existing cordial relationship between both countries by making Nigeria their preferred investment destination.“We want to be like you. We want to learn from you so that we can improve our economy and give our people a better life,” he told the Chinese audience that included the Vice Governor of Guangdong province, Mr. Liang Guixuan, Vice Director General of the Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation of Guangdong Province and Mr. Wang Yongqiu, Special Envoy and former Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria.In his own presentation, Bello observed that the reforms, which has enthroned new era of due process, transparency and anti-corruption initiatives and other institutional reforms have all contributed to strengthening the investment climate in the country.

He said that the new regime of due process has saved the country $3 billion in the last three years.He reechoed Ugwu’s assertion that Nigeria remains one of the best investment destinations, citing the $500 million profit recorded by MTN in 2005, barley three years after setting up shop in Nigeria as indicative of this.Moreover, he said that the BB- credit rating of the country by Fitch and S&P, and the forecast by Goldman Sachs that Nigeria will emerge as one of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020 show that the country is a haven for investors.He said that the new policy of government has ensured generous incentives for prospective investors.

These include 3-5 year corporate tax holiday, zero personal income tax, zero import duty on industrial machinery and equipment, abolition of all excise duties and negotiation of special incentive package for investors by NIPC.He assured investors of speedy processing of documents following the introduction of a one stop investment centre by the NIPC.He said that in the new regime, 13 relevant government agencies have been brought under one roof for easier coordination and efficient and transparent services to investors.Imo State Governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim urged the Chinese investors to avail themselves of the prevailing atmosphere of peace and security and the investor-friendly disposition of the state and set up their businesses in Imo.

He said that Imo State not only boasts of an educated workforce, its citizens are unarguably the most enterprising in the country.He said that the state boasts of abundant arable land, is rich in palm produce, oil and gas and other minerals, which are awaiting investments.“The entrepreneurial spirit of the people is unmatched; the state is accessible to the trading hubs of Onitsha and Aba and we are one of the most peaceful states,” Ohakim courted the Chinese investors.

Governor of Ogun State who was represented invited more Chinese investments into the state, citing as selling points the state’s proximity to the Lagos ports and the financial centre of Nigeria.Presentations were also made by Godwin Obaseki of the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE), Mrs. Yinka Adeyemi, a director in the Ministry of Tourism, First Bank trio, which included a Chinese man, Mr. Wen Duanyu, Mr. Lateef Olaoluwa, Executive Director, UBA and Mr. Sunday Omoigiade, Charge d’affaires of the Embassy of Nigeria in Beijing.

sourced from This Day online (22nd September 2007)

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