Tuesday, May 22, 2018 11:01 pm
The Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, says the Federal Government has invested close to 10 billion dollars in infrastructure development in the last three years.
He said the investment which focused on roads, power and a new national rail network, was unprecedented.
Osinbajo spoke in Abuja on Tuesday at the opening session of the Direct Investors Summit Nigeria, organised by Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC).
“We have in the last three years invested close to 10 billion dollars an unprecedented sum in infrastructure since 2016.
“Our focus is on roads, power and a new national rail network; all of which will help guarantee increased access to markets and reduced operating costs for businesses,’’ Osinbajo said.
According to him, the inspiring news is that the country has emerged from the recession and is determined more than ever to make up for lost time and missed opportunities.
He said the focus on agriculture had attracted billions of dollars in investments in the last three years in rice mills, sugar plantations, fertiliser blending plants, among others.
“Nigeria’s foreign reserves are now almost 50 billion dollars, up from 30 billion dollars when we assumed office.
“Our Sovereign Wealth Fund has in the last two years seen its first new inflows since it was established in 2011.
“We have grown our taxpayer base by five million new taxpayers; from 14 million in 2016 to 19 million today, as part of efforts to diversify Nigeria’s revenue base,’’ Osinbajo said.
He said that the country’s opportunities were premised on a number of strategic endowments, including its population which was Africa’s largest, and half of the entire West Africa.
The vice-president said that Nigeria had one of the most youthful populations in the world with 50 per cent under the age of 20 and 75 per cent under 35, an incredibly energetic and entrepreneurial people.
“It is easy to see why any global company serious about its future just has to have a plan for Nigeria, as many opportunities still abound.
“Last December, a cereal factory opened in Lagos to manufacture Kellogg’s, the result of a partnership between the American company and Tolaram, a Singaporean conglomerate.
“Although the Kellogg Company is over a hundred years old, that factory was its first investment in Nigeria.
“Barely half a year later they are already talking about expansion plans, as the new factory has already hit maximum capacity.
“There are also many successful partnerships between the public and private sectors.
“The best example is Nigeria LNG, a Nigerian run company that liquifies Nigeria’s natural gas for export all over the world and helped Nigeria earn her place as the fourth largest LNG exporter in the world.
“The company is majority private-sector owned by three multinational oil companies, while Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation holds a minority stake.’’ Osinbajo said.
He said the biggest priorities and commitments, as a government, had been the creation of an enabling business environment.
He described the environment as one in which property rights and the rule of law were respected and markets took the lead, while government efficiently fulfilled its role as protector and enabler.
Osinbajo said the country had launched a number programmes to boost investment and because of reforms, the World Bank recognised Nigeria as one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world.
Osinbajo added that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cited the business climate reforms as a major contributor to lifting the economy out of recession last year.
“The most exciting of our current initiatives is the Focus Labs.
“The Focus lab is a process which involves our identifying investment projects that are being held back by bureaucratic bottlenecks and other challenges.
“It also focuses on bringing the project owners and investors together with the relevant senior government officials and regulatory authorities to resolve the challenges.
“The first phase of the Focus Labs identified 22.5 billion dollars ‘worth of investment projects.
“About 10 billion dollars’ worth of these projects, with a potential for 500,000 jobs by 2020, have been classified as ‘Most Ready’, which means we can get them up and running very quickly.
He commended NIPC, saying that in the last 18 months, it had left no doubt about its commitment to fulfilling its mandate of encouraging, promoting and coordinating investments in Nigeria.
Osinbajo said the commission had compiled a comprehensive listing of all investment incentives in Nigeria, making it easier for existing and potential investors to have equal access to the information.
He said the commission also launched an online, multilingual, investors guide with the kind of basic information about starting a business, labour laws, taxes and land that investors needed to better understand Nigeria.