(By Ismaila Chafe – ABUJA)
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in New York assured potential investors that Nigeria would soon be one of the most attractive places to invest for profitable businesses.
Mr Femi Adesina, the president’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, said President Buhari gave this assurance while addressing a gathering of political and business leaders from the United States, Africa and other regions of the world.
The Second United States-Africa Business forum was organized by the United States Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
President Buhari disclosed that already his administration had embarked on significant economic reforms aimed at making Nigeria investors’ destination.
“Nigeria remains the number one investment destination in Africa.’’
He 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.
“Some fiscal incentives include up to 5 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 5 per cent.
“We intend to make Nigeria one of the most attractive places to do business,’’ he declared
President Buhari added that his administration would continue to strengthen government institutions.
“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.’’
According to him, his administration has embarked on policies aimed at establishing an open, rules-based and market-oriented economy.
He stated that Nigerian government would continue to actively engage with the private sector at the highest levels to listen to their concerns and to assure them of “our commitment to creating enabling policies in which your businesses can survive and thrive’’.
He urged participants to take advantage of the Forum to establish and strengthen business relationships, share valuable experience and collaborate for mutual benefits.
The president stressed that enormous potential existed for foreign investment and for the local economy.
He 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 said.
He 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.
According to the president, the priority investment sectors for his administration now are 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 US-Nigeria Commercial and Investment Dialogue with a focus on the infrastructure, agriculture, digital economy, investment and regulatory reform.
He said this would be jointly led by the Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and his U.S. counterpart.
President Buhari expressed the hope for an increased trade and investment flows between Nigeria and the United States.