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Despite challenges, Nigeria very attractive to investors – NIPC ES

By on October 9, 2017

Yewande Sadiku holds a BSc in Industrial Chemistry from the University of Benin and MBA from University of Warwick, United Kingdom. She was recently appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to head the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC). In this interview with our Business Editor, Hamisu Muhammad, she listed the potentials of Nigeria that still make it attractive for investment despite challenges.

Your agency is key in facilitation of the ease of doing business in Nigeria, is there any tangible result so far since the initiative by the Federal Government began?

Absolutely, the work for ensuring an appropriate enabling environment for Nigeria is a journey, it’s not a destination. It’s not a journey that happens in one day; it is a journey that you take incremental steps in and we have been doing that. So there has been material improvement. It used to take 10 days to register a business, now it is possible to do it online and it is possible to do it in one day. You can pay your taxes and get your tax identification certificate online.

Visa on arrival is a reality now and 48 hour visa processing for business and even ordinary visitors.

There is improvement in getting land titles in Lagos, Kano and a number of other states. But doing it in few pockets of states is not enough; we have to do it in all the states across the country. And if you did it well yesterday, it is not enough, you have to do it better today and you have to do it even better tomorrow. There is also a focus on continuous improvement.

Remember, we are competing with other countries and if you are improving your business environment, other countries are doing theirs as well. So you really have to continue doing it and doing it well. That is why I emphasise on continuous improvement.

You mentioned at the forum that ease of doing business ranking is not the only attraction for investors, what do you think makes Nigeria attractive to the investor?

Nigeria’s biggest attraction is its material wealth and the country’s material wealth is in the context of its 193 million population; it is in the size of our land mass – over 923,000 square kilometres. The material wealth is in the mineral resources that we have above the ground which we use for agriculture and under the ground in the context of solid minerals. So there are a wide variety of reasons why Nigeria is an attractive investment destination.

I always say that even the location of Nigeria is strategic for access to West Africa and for the rest of the continent. From Nigeria, there is no part of the African continent that you will not get to within a six-hour period.

There are some sectors that are already having investors’ appetite, oil, gas and telecom but there are still some, like agriculture, tourism, mining and manufacturing, that are still not attractive to investors. What are the special measures you are taking to change the trend?

I don’t think there is any sector that is neglected, I will rather say there are sectors that need improvement and that need focus and in that sense, the government in designing an economic recovery and growth plan, identifying a number of priority sectors. We are interested in getting investments even in sectors that are not identified as priority.

So government focus is on driving the priority sectors such as agriculture, and though oil still appears to be doing well, we still need to develop our gas sector, and we still need oil anyway because it’s too large to ignore.

We need investment to develop our domestic refining capacity. On gas, we need to develop gas to power, develop the manufacturing, construction and real estate sectors and solid minerals, not just mining, in the context of getting things out of the ground but also beneficiation – that is to convert what you mine for use – and infrastructure such as power.

These are the sectors that the government identifies as priority.

Since you came in as executive secretary, what changes are you pursuing in the NIPC that will help attract more investors to the country?

The commission has refined its investment promotion strategy to ensure

that we are fishing where the ducks are, that we are trying to promote

investments in places where we are most likely going to get

investments. We are looking at the priority sector to make sure of where Nigeria has comparative advantage, where a large number of jobs will be created and where real value can be added in the country. And all of these are helping us slowly but surely.

Like I said, it’s a journey not a destination and a journey is something you take step by step provided you are moving in the right direction.

[Daily Trust]