A select group of journalists recently squared up in a chat with the Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga. Our correspondent, Theresa Igata, was there and reports.
Nigeria investment climate
In spite of some challenges Nigeria has demonstrated that it is a preferred destination for investors. There is a lot of interest in Nigerian market among investors; everywhere and anywhere you go the interest is high, momentum is very strong. I don’t think security is a major issue with investors but rather with Nigerians and that is important and the president is addressing that. As you heard in the last report which was issued by UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) in September, Nigeria was the number one destination in terms of net inflow into Africa with $8.9 billion, the amount of investment increased by 46 per cent and none of that is going to oil and gas. It is mainly to the real sector of the economy. I think we’re looking at the right direction.
Next line of action
We’re moving the story away from why you should invest in Nigeria because that point has been made, there is no point convincing the investors; they know that this is where to make the money, they know that the investment opportunities are here, they know the sectors to some extent but we need to educate them about the sectors. But the most important thing for me now is about how and when. I’m not obsessed by the number of conferences or countries I visit, I’m obsessed by the number of investors and the value of investments coming into the country and the sectors that the investors are coming for, so it is more about tangibility, converting potential to reality that’s what I’m interested in.
Number of new investors in Nigeria
They’re many; each day I speak to them. I recently spoke to three companies coming to invest and even when I was in New York I spoke to about 10 of them. On my way back the Ambassador in Dubai called me and said there is a group in Qatar they have budgeted $90 million in logistics that I have to come and see them. The list is growing.
Target in terms of FDI 2012 and 2013
We’re hoping to increase the level of investment by 150 per cent in the next 2-3 years. It was $6 billion in 2010 and it has increased by 46 per cent to $8.9 billion in 2011 but my aspiration is 150 per cent over the next three years.
Attack on telecom infrastructure
These are specific and isolated cases, they are not generic and therefore they’re quicker and easier to address, we’re aware of the complaints made by the telecom sector and the federal government is addressing that. The Minister of Communication Technology is working with the security agents. That is an isolated new development that can be curtailed very soon.
Investment risk analysis
The sort of discussions you have at forums like this is quite different from discussions you have with those who want to invest; they’ve done their research to some extent in fact some countries have the whole map of Nigeria and they have shaded areas in terms of high, low and medium risk, and all they need to do is consider that as part of their risk analysis and look out for high risk adjusted returns and if it is still greater than average of course they’ll still invest which is the advantage we have in Nigeria. I have not had a big issue on security talking to investors, I hear it more at conferences and when talking with Nigerians and it is right that they are the ones raising the matter. But not to worry, the government is addressing the matter of security seriously and this is important especially for the Nigerians who worry about insecurity and its implication on investment.