British Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria, Ms Harriet Thompson, has said the inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit, which kicks off today in London, is part of measures to strengthen Nigeria’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Thompson explained that the summit, organised by United Kingdom government, is designed to create new, long-term partnership that will deliver more investment and jobs in Nigeria and Africa at large.
Thompson noted that the global market for FDI is highly competitive and Nigeria is not where it should be.
Revealing that investment in the country is around 12 to 14 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is far below what it is in most developing countries, Thompson gave assurance that, with the investment summit, Nigeria will change its image.
She added that the UK has brought an impressive private sector expertise to bear on technology, agriculture, services, manufacturing and other areas, promising that more businesses would be coming over time.
The summit, which will showcase the investment opportunities in Nigeria, will bring together British and African businesses to harness the huge potential of the continent when it comes to trade, deliver more investment, jobs and growth to benefit people and businesses across Africa and the UK.
Thompson noted that Nigeria would play a critical role in the success of the summit as President Muhammadu Buhari will head the Nigerian delegation to the event.
The deputy high commissioner posited that the investment summit is an opportunity for Nigeria to make a speech among the 300 British companies including some other top most 700 companies at the highest level, assuring that it was Nigeria’s chance to show its skill, commercial activities that are out there and its ability to diversify the economy away from oil and gas. Thompson, who reiterated that the UK is already here in Nigeria, in a big way, with numerous examples of mutually prosperous partnerships, added that “we want to do more, and the UK-AIS will be a vital landmark towards that goal.
Speaking on the summit, Head of Department for International Development in Nigeria (DFID), Chris Pycroft, added that 21 African countries will participate.
With the bilateral trade between the UK and Nigeria which reached £5.1bn in 2018 (N2.3 trillion), the new investments coming into the country, will boost trade.
Pycroft noted that Nigeria has a long standing trade relationship with the UK, as many UK businesses successfully operate in Nigeria. He added that the British Airways first flight from the UK to Nigeria was 81 years ago; Diageo/Guinness will be 70 in Nigeria this year, Shell, PZ Cussons and Unilever all have strong and long-established operations in Nigeria.
He affirmed that the main interest of the UK- AIS is to change the narrative about Nigeria, pointing out that a lot of investors think that Nigeria is a difficult economy to invest in or operate in as such, “ we want to demonstrate to them that there are already investors; Uk companies are making money here, creating jobs and investing. So, we want to use their expertise to draw other
Andrew Nevin of the Pricewaterhousecoopers and partner, West Africa Services Leader and Chief Economist, said Nigeria needs more investment for the economy to grow at 68per cent. “With that steady growth, 100million people could be lifted out of poverty.
What we are growing is 2 percent, if we continue to grow at 2% rate, poverty level will increase.”
So, to grow, Nevin said the country needs double investments of what we have today. He said roughly, Nigeria needs N40trillion in investment and 95% of the investment has to come from the private sector, adding that the summit was timely to connect with people who want to invest.
On her part, the Executive Secretary and the Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Yewande Sadiku, expressed her delight at the summit, saying to fully achieve Nigeria’s economic potential, the country needs to attract a lot more investment, which will come from the private sector.
She affirmed that Nigeria’s FDI was low because the country was not attracting as much investment as it should, adding that is why a number of efforts aimed at improving flows to Nigeria are important Sadiku added that the UK is one of the countries that the commission identified as being of strategic importance to Nigeria’s for investment promotion.
This is even as Clarke Energy, a Uk engineering company in Liverpool is set to provide 10mw of electrical output to Nigeria.
The UK company, which will provide the electrical output in Kano, according to a statement has already secured contracts with Nigerian companies like Mamuda Group, a conglomerate with over 7,000 employees in the region, and a beauty and personal care & home care firm, Aspira Nigeria.
The disclosure was made during a visit of UK’s International Development Minister, Andrew Murrison, to Clarke Energy in Merseyside, Liverpool, where he opened a new engine repair workshop, where gas engines are overhauled and sent to African nations to make power plants more efficient and support drive for clean energy.
The natural gas engines, according to the statement is to improve the reliability of power to businesses and communities, keep the lights on and power flowing in countries with unstable energy systems, reduce costs and lower emissions.
Also, Murrison announced a new DFID-funded testing lab for solar products ensuring that solar panels and appliances meet global standards and households have access to good quality, reliable clean energy.
The new £230,000 UK aid backed lab, according to the minister will also create new jobs, train staff, procure and install testing equipment. The lab is funded through the DFID Africa Clean Energy (ACE) programme in conjunction with Lighting Africa and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria.