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AfDB urges FG to reform trade, investment framework to attract investors

by Business News Report

The President of African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina has advised the Federal Government to reform the trade and investment framework to make the country more investment friendly. Adesina, represented by a Lead Economist with the bank, Ms Barbara Barungi, made the statement in Abuja on Tuesday at a business and global investment conference.

The theme of the conference was “Reviving the Nigerian dwindling economy through the collaboration of foreign investment’’. He said foreign direct investment could be increased through better regulatory environment and incentives.  “Dialogue between government, domestic and foreign investors is key to promoting investment with targeted investment conferences, business roundtables,’’ Adesina said.

He advised that investors recognise the resilience of the economy and its positioning as a regional hub with the largest economy in Africa where direct foreign investment was opportune.

Adesina noted that the Federal Government was reaching out to investors to diversify the investment portfolio and engage longer term direct foreign investment. He, however, said that perceived policy uncertainty with regard to exchange rate and trade regime would continue to discourage potential investors. Adesina added that high inflation and interest rates also posed additional risks to investors. He said that between 2009 and 2013, foreign investment rose very fast and Nigeria was geared toward positioning itself as the prime destination of investment.

“The comparative advantage of Nigeria is its population size and the fact that it is the largest economy in Africa. But foreign direct investment remained modest at an average of six billion dollars to eight billion dollars per annum,’’ he said.

Also, Mr Boniface Afifia-Oru, Director General of Institute of Empowerment and Strategy, said the conference was meant to unveil, project and focus on the vast untapped natural economic resources in Nigeria. The institute is an International organisation established to intervene in the economic empowerment of the African nations.

Afifia-Oru said Nigeria remained the hub for investment in the continent in spite of its infrastructure challenges, adding that it offered one of the best returns on investment.

“The Federal Government is carrying out various reforms to improve the investment climate in the country in line with the change agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari,’’ Afifia-Oru said.

He said the Federal Government had restored confidence and best practice in the financial sector, entrenched democratic governance and removed bureaucratic bottlenecks, especially at the ports. Afifia-Oru said the government had also provided a boisterous market and a five-year tax holiday which was one of the lowest in sub-Sahara Africa. He added that the institute in New York would have a global conference within the year with the intention of exposing Nigerian entrepreneurs to the global funders.

“All these are meant to galvanise economic and industrial synergy for the greater good of the Nigeria society, creating employment opportunities for the youth and emancipation from the clutches of poverty,’’ Afifia-Oru said.

In her speech, the Acting Executive Secretary of Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Ms Ladi Katagum, said Nigeria had enormous resources, most of which had yet to be fully exploited.

Katagum, who was represented by Mr Abayomi Salami, Assistant Director, National Competitiveness and Policy Advocacy in NIPC, said a comprehensive package of incentives had been put in place to attract investment.

She said the country had a dynamic private sector, which had assured greater responsibilities under the new economic environment. Katagum said the NIPC One Stop Investment Centre coordinated and streamlined the processing and issuance of necessary business entry requirements. She said the centre simplified, shortened and clarified administrative and regulatory requirements for entry into the economy.  She said the centre also provided statistical data and information on the Nigerian economy, investment climate, legal and regulatory framework.


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