Monday, March 11, 2013

Security Challenges Not Threat To Foreign Investment In Nigeria - Ashiru

Leadership Nigeria, Monday, March 11, 2013

The Federal Government said on Monday in Abuja that the security challenges in Nigeria would not hinder the inflow of foreign investments to the country.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Olugbenga Ashiru, said this when he received a United States Trade Delegation in his office.

Ashiru said that the government was not “overwhelmed” by the current security challenges in the country, adding that Nigeria remained the topmost emerging market in Africa.

``It is true we had challenges in some parts of the country as far as security is concerned but government is handling these challenges very well; but the security challenge has not been a hindrance to the inflow of investment and investors from various countries.

``Nigeria continues to attract investment from various countries and Nigeria is one of the topmost emerging markets for now and for the future; so the challenges we have in terms of security are isolated and they will not affect the overall inflow of investments into the key sectors of the economy.

``The fact that we have the Cooperative Council on Africa visiting us today and they have come with so many companies in different sectors will show you that Nigeria is quite open, quite safe and all the investors are coming in and those who are in are doing well and the opportunities are there; we have the largest markets in Africa and we will continue to ensure that people are secure.

``Government is not overwhelmed; it’s a challenge that we will continue to handle and tackle.”

The minister said that the government was yet to confirm the alleged killing of seven foreigners reportedly kidnapped in Bauchi by unknown gunmen.

``There is no official confirmation yet from the Nigerian government, but it is hoped that the captors will not execute those they are holding as hostages; we just hope that that is not the case because you know it is a crime against humanity to kill people in cold blood and innocent people otherwise, it is a crime against humanity and it be so treated but we just hope that our fears are not confirmed.”

Ashiru said that the visit of the trade delegation coincided with the currency of the Federal Government’s transformation agenda especially as it affected infrastructure development.
He called on the delegation to harness sectors that would promote job creation.

``The area that Nigeria will want to see more investment in and interaction with should be in those key sectors of agriculture, power;

``You have quite a lot of experience in the power sector and with General Electric now opening a factory in Nigeria that will present a big opportunity for us in this country.

``Another area you have to look into is manufacturing because these are the sectors that should be able to create jobs for our people; we have to also relate that whatever sector you are focusing on should be those sectors that should be able to create jobs for our teeming youths in this country.”

Ms. Mimi Alemayehou, the Executive Vice President, Overseas Private Investment Cooperation (OPIC) and leader of the U.S. trade delegation, described Nigeria as OPIC’s “largest portfolio”.

She said Nigeria was an important market for the U.S. and urged the government to focus more on power to grow the manufacturing sector in the country.

``There are 17 countries that are part of the Cooperate Council on Africa’s Trade Delegation, which on behalf of the Overseas Private Investment Cooperation (OPIC), is the US government’s development finance institution.

``OPIC has been active in sub-Saharan Africa for about 40 years and has actually been active in Nigeria since 1972 for the entire 40 years of our history.

``Nigeria is our largest portfolio at OPIC; it is the place where we have done the most business; the fact that Nigeria is by far our largest portfolio does say something about Nigeria, the importance of Nigeria’s economy to U.S. industries.

``OPIC is not capital constrained so we love to do more in the next couple of years.
``We’ve done a lot in the financial services sector; we see huge potential in agriculture, in the health sector; if the power sector could really improve the more, there is huge potential in manufacturing in Nigeria; but I think getting the power sector in order and getting the price of power to be cheaper for the manufacturing sector will bring back a lot of manufacturing into Nigeria.”

Alemayehou said that the trade delegation’s visit to Nigeria would support the U.S. private sector and Nigeria as an emerging market.

Also speaking, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Terence McCulley, said that the meeting would provide an opportunity for U.S. investors to know steps being taken by the Federal Government to create a favourable investment climate.

McCulley said that the visit of the delegation was an opportunity for both countries to build on commercial relation.

``For the meetings here it would be important to hear from government on what the various ministries are doing as well steps that the Nigerian government is taking to create that kind of investment climate that will send a strong signal to U.S. investors that Nigeria is open for business.

``From security in this country to the fight against corruption to the creation of an inviting investment climate that really is going to create those opportunities for the United States and Nigeria to build on what is an excellent bilateral relation and also budding commercial relationship beyond the traditional oil and gas sector.”

The visit of the Cooperate Council on Africa Trade Delegation is a follow up to the U.S-Nigeria Trade Business Forum held in September 2012.
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