The Federal Government has attributed lingering insecurity in some parts of the country to the country’s drop down from the top 10 of preferred investment destinations in Africa.
The Minister of Trade and Investment, Chief Adeniyi Adebayo, said this at a media briefing organized by the Presidential Communication Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday.
He, however, said in spite of the dip in Nigeria’s position to the 14th position in a recent rating, the country still boasts of the largest population in Africa and the largest market.
Egypt topped the list while Morocco and South Africa ranked second and third.
President Muhammadu Buhari had reacted to the ranking, saying Nigeria remains “the most viable and attractive investment destination in Africa.”
He spoke at a trade and investment forum — Dubai Expo 2020.
Adebayo said: “One of the things that we keep harping on is the fact that we have the largest individual population in Africa, we are the largest markets in Africa, of the 1.3 billion African market, over 200 million is Nigeria.
“The reason for that varies but the major one being the security problems that we have within the country. And as you are well aware, the federal government is making every effort to resolve the security problems so that we will go back to the position of being the preferred destination.”
According to the Minister, going by his interactions with foreign investors, their interest in investing in Nigeria has heightened.
“And because there seems to be a big interest again in investing in Nigeria. So I’m sure as time goes on, we will begin to see an improvement in that situation.
“Anybody that wants to do business in Africa, we always say you should take advantage of that market. There is no better place to start than Nigeria because you have ready market in Nigeria, and Nigeria as a hub, and then spread to other African countries. And that is the message we will take out.”
He assured that the government was doing everything within its power ensure security in the country.
Adebayo stressed:”We are buying lots of equipment, we are increasing the size of the police force, they are equipping them, they are equipping the military, they have been able to get some attack aircrafts now.
“I’m aware that the Army will be buying some helicopters soon. So, a lot of effort, a lot of funds are being put in that direction with a view to resolving the security issue.”
On the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), the minister
disclosed that investment worth $400 million is being expected through the agreement with the African Development Bank in partnership with other banks including Islamic Development Bank, are showing interest.
On the challenges facing the manufacturing sector, Adeniyi identified power as a major one.
“The whole idea of setting up these processing and industrial zones is that part of infrastructure that we put in place for those zones will be power. We have roads, we have water, all the things that are required will be put in those places.
“So, all you need to do as a manufacturer is come, lease the place and all the infrastructure you need will be in place that will help to make life easy.
“We are in touch with the Minister of Petroleum Resources with a view to reducing the cost of gas. Many manufacturers are already generating their own power to power their industries.
“But the cost of the gas that they are asked to pay does not make them competitive. In fact, they pay more than even the companies that generate power.
“So, we are saying to the Minister of Petroleum, that they should sell gas to manufacturers at the same price that they sell to the GenCos. Since they are also generating power, they should be given that opportunity to be able to buy gas at a price that would not make their goods uncompetitive,” he said.
On the rejection of Nigerians foods exports abroad, he noted that cross-border smuggling of commodities has done a lot of damage to the economy.
“A lot of agricultural produce are smuggled from Nigeria, into Ghana and exported from Ghana. You’ll be surprised that even our crude oil is exported from Ghana as crude oil from Ghana.
“These are issues that I believe a cabinet committee has been set up with a view to resolving these issues so that it will make it easier for us to export goods from here without the attendant costs and delays that exporters presently are faced with. So, that will soon be a thing of the past.”
Adebayo also disclosed that the National Quality Laboratory in Abeokuta, Ogun State, under construction would be ready before the end of the year to facilitate exporting of more products to other countries.
“We have partnered with the AFREXIMBANK and the first quality lab that is going to be in operation in Nigeria. I think should be ready by the end of this year. It is in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
” Nigerian goods will be put to the quality test and be certified by one of the international inspection agencies and once they get that certification, anywhere they are shipped to in the world; there would be no problem.”