President Muhammadu Buhari has assured potential investors that Nigeria would soon be one of the most attractive places to invest as his administration has embarked on significant economic reforms to realise that goal.
The President gave the assurance to a large gathering of political and business leaders from the United States, Africa and other regions of the world at the Second United States-Africa Business Forum in the New York, on Wednesday, organised by the United States Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The Nigerian leader said that the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, would soon come out with wide-ranging business environment reforms on ports, visa-on arrival, improving the speed and efficiency of land titling and business registration.
Investment Destination In Africa
Some fiscal incentives he noted, include, up to five years tax holiday for activities classified as “pioneer”; tax-free operations; no restrictions on expatriate quotas in Free Trade Zones; and a low VAT regime of five per cent.
“We intend to make Nigeria one of the most attractive places to do business,” he declared, even as he noted that Nigeria remained the number one investment destination in Africa.
President Buhari told the gathering that his administration would continue to strengthen government institutions in order to address the concerns of investors and ease investments in the Nigerian economy.
“We are weaning ourselves from a historical dependence on crude oil, diversifying our economy, and putting it on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth.
“To this end, we have embarked on policies aimed at establishing an open, rules-based and market-oriented economy.
“We will continue to actively engage with the private sector at the highest levels to listen to your concerns and to assure you of our commitment to creating enabling policies in which your businesses can survive and thrive,” President Buhari said.
He urged participants to “take advantage of this Forum to establish and strengthen business relationships, share valuable experience and collaborate for mutual benefits”.
President Buhari while stressing that enormous potential exists for foreign investment and for the local economy, listed sectors which had barely been exploited to include Nigeria’s 180-million population and abundance of labour; arable land; forest waters; oil and gas; solid minerals; livestock and huge tourist potential.
“These are no doubt challenging times for the Nigerian economy.
“But let me use this opportunity to boldly affirm our conviction that there is no crisis without an accompanying opportunity.
“In our case, we see Nigeria’s ongoing economic challenges – occasioned mainly by the fall in oil prices – as an opportunity to set the economy firmly on the path of true diversification, sustainable economic growth and shared prosperity,” he stated.
The President said that the reform measures taken by his administration since inception in 2015 had started yielding good fruits especially in the areas of security, anti-corruption and revamping the economy.
He emphasised that the priority investment sectors for his administration now were improving infrastructure, industrial productivity, agriculture, mining and digital economy where “young Nigerians are increasingly demonstrating that they have the talent and the passion to leverage”.
On United States-Nigeria business relations, he announced the commencement of the U.S.-Nigeria Commercial and Investment Dialogue with a focus on the infrastructure, agriculture, digital economy, investment and regulatory reform to be jointly led by the Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and his U.S. counterpart.
President Buhari said that after this Business Forum, he looked forward to increased trade and investment flows between Nigeria and the United States.
The Nigerian leader had met with U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday where issues of terrorism, nation’s dwindling economy and other efforts of the government to revive the economy were discussed.
Obama describes Nigeria as a very important country in the comity of nations which is why his administration decided to assist the administration in the fight.
President Obama also pledged to assist in the area of economy, agriculture, promising to inject more fund to assist Nigeria come out of recession.
He wished President Buhari well, pledging to set up a framework for more support from America even while he leaves office.