INVESTMENT opportunities in Nigeria are not only attractive, they have some of the highest returns-on-investment globally, President Muhammadu Buhari told participants on Thursday at the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) in Tokyo, Japan.
Presenting Nigeria’s statement at Plenary Session Three on “Public-Private Business Dialogue” at the TICAD7, he took advantage of the forum to market the country’s potential to foreign investors.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President said he looked forward to prospective investors making inroads in power and renewable energy, petrochemical and gas, maritime (shipping and ports), automobiles, mining, agribusiness, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, ICT and railway, which he classified as priority sectors.
Urging investors to take advantage of ongoing reforms being carried out by his administration, Buhari added: “I have also established a Presidential Committee on Enabling Business Environment, which is made up of key Ministries and prominent businessmen to promote the Ease of Doing Business and make Nigeria more attractive and competitive for investment.
“Our administration is committed to removing all impediments to private sector participation in these sectors by creating policies that will ensure consistency, predictability and a level playing field for all.”
He identified power, transportation, infrastructure, maritime/shipping, agro-processing, mining, manufacturing, petro-chemicals, food processing and textiles among others, as “key drivers to the diversification” of the local economy as well as “priority areas that will drive our Economic Agenda.” The President said he looked forward to “welcoming prospective investors to Nigeria.”
Reviewing the Nigeria-Japan relations, President Buhari commended the existing bonds of friendship and economic cooperation between both countries, describing the Asian country as “a strategic partner for our socio-economic development.”
He explained Nigeria’s intention to “further encourage relationships with key public and private sector stakeholders” in both nations.
The President hailed the level of “discussions on the establishment of the Japan-Nigeria Business Facilitation Council, an initiative of the Japanese government, which would be launched on our return to Nigeria.” He added: “I look forward to positive reports of increased trade and investment between Nigeria and Japan from these initiatives.”
Describing the TICAD forum as important to Nigeria, President Buhari said: “It coincides with the period when the country is faced with a number of challenges that affect our economy.”
Noting that his administration “has put in place measures seeking to diversify the economy by developing agriculture, emphasising on manufacturing and addressing the energy and infrastructure deficit,” he expressed confidence that, “with these, we shall be placing Nigeria on the path of rapid growth and sustainable development.
President Buhari stressed: “TICAD is also coming at a time when our government is implementing home-grown and private sector-driven economic measures that are predicated on good governance, infrastructure and human capital development as well as, business climate reform.”
The above domestic measures, he explained, informed his invitation to “the private sector to come and invest in Nigeria.”
According to him, “Nigeria and indeed Africa, expect much from this forum in terms of investment, considering the role of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in all economies – developed and developing.”
President Buhari also expressed Nigeria’s gratitude to the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, “for his unwavering commitment to strengthen trade and investment between Japan and Africa through various initiatives, partnership and support of the Japanese Government.”
He sought the support of the Asian government in combating piracy in the Gulf of Guinea as well as illegal fishing in that region.
The President made the request during a bilateral meeting between the Nigerian delegation and Japanese officials, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on the margins of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7).
Buhari, who commended Abe for the invitation extended to him to attend the triennial forum, also thanked the Japanese government for attending the pioneer celebration of June 12 as Democracy Day in Nigeria.
Prime Minister Abe pledged a $300,000 support for Nigeria’s Defence College and 12 million Yen for the country’s public health sector.
He also promised his country’s support for Nigeria’s Presidency of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, while seeking Nigeria’s support for Japan’s bid to occupy some global positions.
Also yesterday in Yokohama, Nigeria and the European Union (EU) signed a €50 million Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support humanitarian and development efforts in the country’s Northeast region.
The pact, which was signed by Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, and EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Mr. Neven Mimica, would bring EU’s support to the country to €562 million for 2014-2020.
President Buhari, who thanked the EU member states for their support especially for the North East, described as “pathetic the situation in internally displaced camps.”
He also called for further assistance to improve youth education in the region to take them out of poverty.
Mimica said Nigeria’s request for enhanced assistance would be given priority consideration since it had come at the time that the EU was in the process of preparing its seven-year budget.