TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Nigeria at 50 a goldmine for potential investors

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Source: Malaysia National News Agency

Nigeria, which celebrates its Golden Jubilee of Independence anniversary tomorrow, is definitely a goldmine for all potential investors, including from Malaysia, said its High Commissioner to Malaysia Peter J E Anegbeh.

In his remarks at the "Business Forum:Investment Opportunities in Nigeria" here, today, Anegbeh said the country offered huge business opportunities ranging from the oil and gas sector to the film industry, something not many Malaysian businessmen were aware of.

Nigeria is endowed with abundant natural resources such as huge deposits of oil and gas, bitumen and a host of other mineral resources plus skilled and talented workforce with good English speaking skills and a vibrant domestic market, he said.

He pointed out that Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, also offered a huge internal market of 150 million emerging consumers and also a gateway to the neighbouring West African states with a combined population of about 100 million people.

Anegbeh explained that the current administration, like the ones before it, was committed to transforming Nigeria's economy into one of the leading 20 economies in the world by the year 2020.

Among the various policies and investment incentives for foreign investors include the one where foreign investors can repatriate 100 per cent of their profit.

To this end, new legislation to encourage public-private partnership had spawned major investments and concessions in large companies in steel, petrochemicals, mining and ports.

"So, I encourage you to take the time to visit Nigeria, to interact with its engaging people and learn about the abundant opportunities that await both local and international investors in this vibrant and fast growing economy," he told some 150 participants at the business forum.

Among the speakers were the President, Fidson Healthcare Ltd, Chief Fidelis Ayebae, Dr Friday Okpara of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and Dr Okhakhu Marcellinus, Associate Professor, University of Benin, Edo State.

The subjects covered included Agro Allied Industries and the Nigerian film industry.

The one-day forum was part of activities to mark the celebration of Nigeria@50.

Touching on the sectors, Anegbeh said one of the flourishing sectors was information communication technology where the growth of Nigeria's telecom sector in recent years had topped 30 per cent per annum while investors from South Africa, China and Gulf States had reaped the dividends of investing early.

With an estimated 30 million mobile lines, there is significant room for further growth in the sector, he pointed out.

Internet service providers and other investors are moving in, having added 10,000 seats to domestic call centres in the past two years, he said.

With a young population and per capita income of more than US$1,200, internet penetration has the potential to race far ahead of the current five per cent level, he said.

Anegbeh explained that there were also notable efforts to develop technology parks in Abuja, Kano and Lagos and some other cities.

As for Nigeria's own "Nollywood" film industry, which is among the world's prolific, and with more than 40 movies per week, and one million young Nigerians, investment opportunities were also there, he said.

Professional distribution network, improved technical support and provision of venture capital opportunities will no doubt be vital to the growth of the film industry in Nigeria, said Anegbeh.

According to Anegbeh, agriculture made up the bulk of the non-oil economy, contributing 21 per cent of the non-oil sector GDP and two-thirds of employment adding that along with wholesale and retail trade, agriculture sector was responsible for more than half of the country's economic growth over the past five years.

He said only half of the arable land was under cultivation and agri business opportunities remained largely untapped in the processing, primary production and retail and wholesale sectors.

Anegbeh said Nigeria was the fifth largest oil supplier to the United States and the eight largest oil exporter in the world and in this sector, competition had gone beyond the western world, with Chinese, Indian and South Korean companies trying to gain a foothold in the sector.

The sector is competitive for discerning investors, he said, urging Malaysian investors to participate pro-actively in the sector.

Anegbeh said that reforms were also ongoing in the banking sector to strengthen balance sheets, open up credit to the private sector and help shield banks from the more severe effects of the global financial crisis.

On the opportunities for Malaysian companies to invest in the Export Zones of the African country, Anegbeh said that among others, the law governing the Free Zones allowed investors to repatriate their profits, dividends and capital appreciation across borders.

Besides that, there is freedom to use technologies at their disposal, and adequate security for lives and properties, he said.

He added that the country was also bureaucracy free and enjoyed The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) with benefits on more than 6,500 products.