The Nigeria Minister for Industry Trade & Investment Mr Olusegun O. Aganga has said that Nigeria is one of the most profitable countries to invest in the world despite its many challenges.
Mr Aganga told Nigerians in London that their green passport is ‘their greatest asset’ because in four to five years, everyone will be looking for it when Nigeria’s economy becomes one of the biggest in the world.
The comments came as the Minister addressed delegates who attended the Nigeria Direct Investment Summit in Kensington, London between the 12-13th of June.
Aganga urged Nigerians in the diaspora to take advantage of the rapid growth that Nigeria was enjoying in recent times.
Despite the negative media coverage (particularly in terms of security) in the last few weeks, the former Goldman Sachs executive said there ‘was money to be made’ in the country.
The Minister told delegates that “International bodies have identified Nigeria as the no 1 destination for investment in Africa for the second year running.” This he said was based on returns on investment, for which Nigeria is ranked 4th in the world with a ROI of 35.5% when the global average is 6%.”
Aganga also told the packed conference that Nigeria has a strong economy that is growing very rapidly, with emphasis on diversification and SME’s, so as to reduce the over reliance on oil, while maintaining a level of fiscal discipline not seen before in the country for decades.
In an effort to allay the fears of potential investors who were concerned about the effect the security situation would have on their businesses, the Minister remarked that in the last few weeks during which international media attention was on Nigeria over the kidnap of over 300 girls from Chibok in Borno state, foreign interest in Nigeria has spiked to an all time high despite the obvious security risks involved in doing business in Nigeria.
Aganga said that this was due to the fact that investors realise that the benefits of doing business in the country far outweighed the risks for those who are willing to take the leap.
“A lot is happening in our country, don’t be left out it”, he said. “For years Africa remained at the bottom of the chain because it traded at the bottom value of the chain but there is a need to shift the paradigm from commodities to value addition.”
The Statistician General of the federation and CEO of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Dr Yemi Kale, told the audience that one of the main challenges of doing business in Nigeria was a lack of information,key facts and figures. He affirmed the commitment of his Ministry to ensure that all records and data are computed and archived efficiently for easy accessibility for potential investors.
Mr Kale told the audience that interest in the Nigerian economy has been growing steadily over the years, recording millions of hits on the organisation’s website since the rebasing of Nigeria’s economy as investors seek to find out more information about the country.
He also gave a brief insight into how Nigeria was suddenly catapulted into into the position of the biggest economy in Africa, trumping that of South Africa.
Sectors such as Nollywood and an increase in the number of service oriented businesses helped boost the economy, making it one of the biggest in the world in terms of GDP.
Chairman of NDDIS Mr Bimbo Roberts Afolayan said the aim of the event was to give Nigerians in London a chance to get involved in the industrial revolution happening at home so that they could also benefit from it.
This year’s NDDIS was well attended by top leaders of industry from Nigeria as well as here in the UK including Head NCD SNepco Shell Mr Austin Uzoka, Clive Carpenter Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Desk at the British Council for Africa and the Nigeria High Commissioner to the UK Dr Dalhatu Tafida.
The event provided unprecedented access to stakeholders in Nigeria including representatives of the Bank Of Industry (BOI) and Niger State.
A cross-section of Nigerians in London attended the summit from various industries and sectors including Adesope Olajide (media personality), Richard Taylor (Damilola Taylor Foundation). TV bosses Alistair Soyode and Akin Salami, Karine Laudort-Idonije (PR Consultant), Afrobeats sensation Ada Snoop and Nigerian Canoeing champion Johny Akinyemi.