The Minister of Trade and Investment in Nigeria, Mr Olusegun Aganga, has given the nation’s economy a clean bill of health, saying that despite the challenges of poor infrastructural development, epileptic power supply, insecurity in some states in the north-east, Nigeria’s economy still accounts for 75 per cent of new investments in Africa.
Mr Aganga made the claim in Ota, Ogun state, in south-west Nigeria while delivering a lecture on “the emergence of Nigeria as Africa’s largest economy and challenges for the future”.
The Minister gave a bit by bit economic development indices of Nigeria in the last couple of years, emphasising that Nigeria has been attracting investment capital rather than aid money. He attributed it to the many economic development initiatives being put in place by the Federal Government
In his speech, the Vice Chancellor of the Bells University of Technology, Professor Isaac Adeyemi, stressed that knowledge economy, research, innovation and Education must be adequately funded by the government at all levels to ensure Nigeria achieves its vision of becoming one of the top 20 economies in the world by 2020.
In his goodwill message, the Chairman of the occasion, Professor Akin Maboogunje, told participants that aside from America, “Nigeria is the only country that can lay claim to Manifest Destiny”, adding that the country has larger concentration of proactive and talented people.
Youths who were present at the occasion were urged to make themselves readily available for the challenges of the 21st century so that Nigeria, as the current largest economy in Africa, could take its rightful place in the comity of great economies of the world.
Trade between Nigeria and the EU has risen in the last two years accounting for as much as 8.5 trillion Naira in 2013 alone owing to the EU’s support strategy in health, sustainable energy, access to electricity and governance among others.
The Head of EU delegation to ECOWAS, Michel Arrion, said told Channels Television in an interview that the EU would do more business with Nigeria.
To continue the partnership, the EU plans to hold a business forum this month, tagged: Time For Private Sector.
The EU hopes to attract at least 300 businesses from across Europe and Nigeria, to invest in major developmental projects in the country.
“We are looking to do more trades with Nigeria in terms of financing, responding to the internal and domestic demand are very large.
“It is not with little development project programme that we will respond. We need private financing flows, private investments,” Mr Arrion said.
The EU intends to invest at least 200 million dollars into the energy sector to facilitate the defending mechanism that would support the privatisation system.
The German government has declared its interest in establishing a green agricultural centre in Ogun State in south-west Nigeria.
The development is a fallout of a meeting in Berlin, Germany between representatives of the German government and a visiting team from Ogun State, headed by Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
The Ogun State government officials had travelled to Germany to promote the Positive Economic Development Policy of Amosun’s administration.
At the end of a meeting on Friday, the German Minister of Economic Cooperation, Mr Gerd Muller, told reporters of the government’s decision.
He acknowledged the conducive economic environment in Ogun State and expressed his country’s readiness to intensify the economic ties between it and the state government.
Mr Muller, who visited Ogun State in June, said the trip changed his perception about Nigeria, expressing confidence that great potentials that could be tapped abound in the state.
The Minister explained that the centre, to be cited within a tertiary institution, would serve as an innovation centre where his government and the Ogun State government intend to intensify ties and cooperation.
He commended Amosun’s administration for its urban renewal initiative and highlighted other areas of possible cooperation between Germany and Ogun State as, human capacity development, wealth creation and promotion of vocational education.
While addressing a conference in Berlin, Governor Amosun bemoaned the slow pace of growth in most African countries, attributing the trend to the insensitivity of successive leaders to the yearning of the people.
At the conference with the theme “Africa – Continent of opportunities: Which role for development cooperation”, the Ogun State governor asked governments in Africa to work towards creating wealth and tapping into the opportunities that abound in the real sector to create more jobs for the teeming youths.
President Goodluck Jonathan has urged all African countries to become more active participants in the digital revolution going on in the world.
The Nigerian President made the call on Tuesday at an international conference on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the Chadian capital, Ndjamena.
A statement by the spokesman for the President, Reuben Abati, said President Jonathan observed that because of the strong correlation between the efficient deployment of ICTs and socio-economic development, Nigeria and other African countries stood to gain a lot from the effective adoption of the new technologies.
“Africa and Africans must be active participants in the digital revolution that is taking place all around the world. We must in fact be at the forefront of that revolution, creating information societies and knowledge based economies.
“African governments must facilitate and support the deployment of the necessary ICT infrastructure required to connect our citizens to each other and the rest of the world, we need to educate our citizens on ICTs and make them digitally literate so they can actively participate in this revolution, we need to encourage the development of our local ICT industries, creating companies to drive added domestic economic value, create jobs and support sustainable growth in GDP,” the President told the gathering which was hosted by President Idriss Deby of Chad,” President Jonathan said.
The President said that to ensure that Nigeria got the full benefits of new information and communication technologies, which include improving national commerce, the development of an ICT workforce, the creation of high skilled, high paying jobs, improved international competitiveness and the establishment of stronger, more competitive small and medium businesses, the Federal Government was judiciously implementing a National ICT Policy, National Broadband Strategy and Roadmap and the Guidelines for Nigerian Content in the ICT industry.
“The results of our efforts in this regard include an ICT sector that is 19% of our Services sector which in itself is 54% of total GDP. In addition to this, the ICT sector has an enabling effect on other sectors of the economy contributing a further 2.56% of added value,” President Jonathan said.
He said that in addition to encouraging and facilitating the development of ICTs within Nigeria, his administration was also helping to increase the geographic spread of high capacity broadband networks to support the harmonious and integrated development of regional economies in Africa.
“With over 10 terabytes of undersea cable landing on our shores we are, through the bi-lateral Nigeria-Niger Joint Commission, extending that capacity to Niger and we are in the process of entering into an MoU with the Chadian Government to interconnect the optic fibre networks of Chad and Nigeria,” President Jonathan told guests and participants in the conference.
Noting that information and communication technologies and the internet have clearly become catalysts that can expand the scope and scale of socio-economic development, President Jonathan commended his Chadian counterpart for hosting the conference.
He further wished participants successful and fruitful deliberations.
President Jonathan had travelled to Chad to hold talks with Chadian President, Idriss Deby to hold talks on how both nations can forge a stronger alliance against terrorism and violent extremism.
The talks is expected to result in further actualisation of agreements for greater cooperation against insurgents and terrorists in the West African region reached by Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon at a meeting in Paris earlier this year.
If you are looking to invest in Nigeria, the largest Economy in Africa, you should consider rice farming which is the most profitable in the Agriculture sector, the Minister of Agriculture, Akinwunmi Adesina, said on Friday.
In an interview centred on food security and the reforms in the Agriculture sector, Dr Adesina said that the agriculture policy of the government had opened up the sector for more investments to thrive.
He said that the government had made necessary contributions in terms of high yield seedlings for small, medium and large scale farmers.
He listed different chains in the agriculture sector that the government’s transformation agenda was focusing on, emphasising that ‘rice is the most profitable’.
The agenda is aimed at shifting the mainstay of the Nigerian economy from crude oil to agriculture.
“If you invested 14 million dollars in an integrated rice mill in Nigeria today, the internal rate of return on the investment is 42 to 50 per cent and the time it takes you to pay back the investment is exactly two years. It is the most profitable thing that anyone can be doing in Nigeria today.
“That is because the population is rising and people are consuming more rice.
“If we folded our hands in Nigeria today and keep importing rice from India Thailand, by 2050, we will be spending 35 billion dollars importing rice from them.
“We have started distributing this rice variety and when we started, we started with roughly about 406,000 farmers in 2012 then we moved to 2.6 million farmers in 2013. In 2014, we have added another three million farmers growing this rice.
“Fifty per cent of the farmers that are growing rice in the wet season have shifted to this variety of rice that could be planted in dry season. We can now produce in the wet season and in the dry season,” he said.
Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, had said he would be investing a billion dollars in commercial rice milling.
Other big names in Nigeria are also coming into the sector with huge funds, evidencing the viability of the sector.
Thai For Rice In Africa
The Minister said that with the policy that President Goodluck Jonathan had put in place, more investments were expected to come in.
“Nigeria Agriculture has changed and that is why the big names are coming in. They realised that it is a big money making enterprise. There is a role for everybody, the small the medium and the large.
“Aliko Dangote said by God’s grace we will become the Thai for rice in Africa and that is what a good policy does.
“I think that what the president has done is extremely good. He has set very good policies and we are beginning to see the rewards of that.
“In Rice today in Nigeria we have a total of 1.6 billion dollars of private sector investment going there.
“I feel the momentum is there and we will achieve it. I believe that in three to four years Nigeria will, by the grace of God, become just like Thailand for rice in Africa,” Dr Adesina said, expressing optimism that rice production would continue to increase.
Over the years, the amount spent on importation of rice from India and Thailand has been on the increase and the government is looking to reduce this in the next few years.
“It is a shameful thing that Nigeria will continue to import rice when it has the resources to export.
“We could not continue the import demand that we were having. It is affecting the Naira, We are spending so much money defending the Naira and we are exporting our jobs if we continue to import,” he stressed.
Despite the increase in the production of rice, there is still a shortfall of supply, as rice is a staple food that most Nigerians eat.
To shore-up supply, Dr Adesina stressed the need for more awareness to be created to get consumers realise that the “Nigerian rice is great and better than what they have.
“The next thing would be to continue to produce so that they can have regularity of supply to patronise the Nigerian rice.
“Nigerian rice is cheaper than the imported rice. An analysis of the market showed that the weighted price of the local rice is cheaper than the imported rice,” he said.
Since the government policy on rice importation was put in place, Rice smugglers have continued to bring in foreign products.
Mr Adeshina, however, urged security agencies manning Nigeria’s borders to increase surveillance and check smuggling activities.
“We have to deal with the issue of smuggling. We cannot have a situation where people defile our borders and come in with items they like. People don’t carry them on their heads. They go around in trailers and those that have to do their job must do their job,” he said.
Cocoa Farming Gaining Attention
Nigeria used to be a major cocoa exporter, but the discovery of crude oil led to dearth in the production. But as the government is looking to diversify the economy, cocoa farming is gaining gradual attention, with production increasing.
To encourage cocoa farmers in Nigeria the government had started giving away high yields and high breeds of cocoa that give five times the yield that farmers are currently getting.
Over one million farmers all across the cocoa growing states in Nigeria have received seedlings and that translates into roughly 39 million seedlings that have been given away for free. This will allow for the cultivation of 40,000 hectares of new cocoa plantations that will increase production from 350 thousand metric tonnes to 800 thousand metric tonnes in the next two years.
The Minister said that Nigeria was getting close to Cote d’Ivorie Coast and other cocoa producing countries, insisting that Ivory Coast will not beat Nigeria in cocoa.
“We are doing the same thing also for oil palm and we have given away nine million sprouted nuts of oil palm free of charge to farmers.
“We are replacing the tall palm trees variety with short once. Because nobody can export a tree, we are investing in planting them so that it will be producing fruits in the next 30 years.
“We must be looking at our ports’ use which should not only be for imports but for exports also. Our rice today in terms of total value added to our local economy in terms of gross value across all the states is 750 billion Naira since we started in 2012.”
Economic analysts have advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to consider mopping up liquidity to check the rising inflation rate.
The Head of Research and Publications, Dr Afolabi Olowookere and Mr Bie Peterside, both of the Financial Derivative Company Limited, told Channels Television on Tuesday that the increase in inflation rate that had been on for the fast five months was due to prevailing security challenges in the north-east and activities leading to the the 2015 general elections.
Mr Peterside pointed out that foreign investors had slowed down the rate of investment in the nation, as areas they could invest in at the moment were very few.
It is usual for investors to also slow down investments when an election year is approaching, in order to ascertain the political situation of the country, a situation that is apparently leading to the rise in the inflation rate.
For Dr Olowookere, the CBN should mop up liquidity to check the growing inflation rate.
“When inflation is rising the real return on investment drops. Increase in inflation implies that you are losing your purchasing power.
“So many factors are responsible for the increase. The insurgency in the north-east is contributing to the rise in price of goods that are supposed to come from the region and the election that is coming,” Dr Olowookere said.
He pointed out that the apex bank had several tools which it could use to control the inflation rate, but emphasised that the best option at the moment would be to reduce the excess liquidity in the system.
“The CBN will look at the indicators and decide what tools to use to control the inflation rate, which will all be aimed at reducing excess liquidity in the system.
“You either increase the goods that are in supply or you reduce the money in the hands of the people,” he said.
The experts further said that the increasing inflation rate was not expected to affect the exchange rate.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has is planning to establish the National Council on Power to achieve the goal of providing sustainable power supply.
When established, the National Council on Power would assist in formulating useful policies and providing the much needed manpower in the power sector.
Speaking at a meeting in Abuja on Monday, the Minister of State for Power, Mr Mohammed Wakil, urged members of the council to use their expertise to make useful observations to the Federal Government to improve the nation’s power sector.
The Nigerian government had in November 2013 concluded the privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, but the process has not yielded much in the sector, as the total power generation is bellow 6,000 megawatts.
The government had said it would welcome more investments in the sector to boost the power supply, which experts said would create jobs and grow the economy.