The Nigerian economy is increasingly under great scrutiny as the country is tipped to be the biggest economy in Africa by the next 20 years if it’s potential is efficiently leveraged.
Nigeria has huge potential especially in human capital, which is tipped to be the largest in the world by 2020. So says the Director General of the Common Wealth Business Council Peter Callaghan.
Mr Callaghan made the remarks during the recently concluded UK and Nigeria Bilateral Trade and Investment conference held at the Hilton, Park Lane, London.
“Nigeria’s capabilities represent opportunities for both countries”, he said. Mr Callaghan also stated that Nigeria has demand for services in areas where the UK has expertise. Sectors such as health, power and transport where the UK can work with Nigeria to build a sustainable relationship.
The event was organised by Nigeria in the Diaspora (NIDO), an organisation that was established in 2004 with the aim of fostering trade relations between professionals and businesses in the Diaspora and Nigeria.
Having been classified as a MINT country (The others being Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey), there is increased interest in what opportunities exist for foreign investors interested in doing business in Nigeria.
In her opening remarks, the Chair, NIDO UK South Henrietta Abraham LL.M stated Nigeria remains a veritable ground for investment and trade with high returns for those who will take the plunge.
Also speaking at the event was Nigeria’s High Commisioner To the UK, Dr Dalhatu Tafida, who praised the efforts of the organisation in driving investment to Nigeria. Dr Tafida stated, ” With attributes such as a large population of about 167 million people, 80 million square meters of arable land, out of which only 44% is being used, high GDP growth rate and low debt ratio to GDP of about 18%, investors have the opportunity to tap into the huge human and natural resources the country has to offer.
The two day event featured presentations by the Comptroller general of the Nigeria Customs service who introduced the launch of their brand new portal: The Nigeria Trade Hub, which is a platform that aims to bring about simplification in doing business in Nigeria to create a sustainable partnership.
The outstanding presentation was delivered by Mary Anne Egwuyenga, an officer of the Nigeria Customs service, while other members of the ICT team including Officer Bukola Omoniyi and Officer Ibrahim Yaro were on hand to ensure that the delegates understood the tools and technicalities of the Nigeria trade hub to enable them carry out their import, export transactions with minimal human contact.
This is part of the reforms currently being carried out by the Nigeria customs service to fight corruption within the service and build trust in the organisation’s services while bringing it in line with global best practices.
The portal is interactive and intuitive with information about documentary registration, regulatory agencies involved with your import query and prohibitions and conditions for prohibitions.
Information is provided in real time with the aim of shortening the overall transaction time in order to improve productivity.
The Nigeria custom service has also launched an app (Yes, an app) for the portal which can be downloaded for free from play store. The organisation is also making use of the digital revolution by disemminating information in real time via social media on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.
There’s also a help line should you require further information or assistance especially when importing cosmetics or drugs to Nigeria. To find out more about the Nigeria Trade Hub, log on to http://www.nigeriatradehub.gov.ng/.
For those interested in investing in Nigeria, the delegates at the event were given a summary of the country’s financial performance by Mr Tunde Lemo, Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank Of Nigeria.
Nigeria’s quarterly GDP in 2013 was 6.56%, 6.18% and 6.81% in Q1, Q2 and Q3. The country enjoyed a robust non oil GDP growth in significant areas such as wholesale, retail trade, services, building and construction, mineral and manufacturing.
Our current GDP is at 1.85% giving Nigeria the lowest budget deficit in the world, while inflation stands at 8% as at the end of December 2013.
Newcastle Upon Tyne MP, Chi Onwurah also gave a brief speech extolling the virtues that Nigeria had for the discerning investor. She acknowledged that there were various challenges that need to be addressed but cited successes in the country’s telecommunications sector which is booming as one of the reasons investors should come to Nigeria. She also urged Nigerians living in London to get more involved in decisions affecting the community and urged anyone with feedback or ideas to contact the parliamentary committee.