Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Nigeria remains most attractive destination for business, says World Bank chief

THE Country Director, World Bank, Nigeria, Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, has said that despite the current infrastructural challenge in Nigeria, the country remains the most attractive place for both local and foreign investors.

Marie-Nelly stated this on the sidelines of the Launch of the World Bank’s Investment Climate Assessment (ICA) Report in Abuja.

She said: “Nigeria has the most attractive environment for investment because Nigeria is a large market in the continent; it is the second largest economy in the continent. It is a market that any investor cannot ignore with over 160 million people and a gateway to the ECOWAS.  For me, while we say the country’s current investment climate could be better in terms of providing electricity, access to finance and other things, you should also look at the huge opportunities for investment in Nigeria.

“The basic lesson from the World Bank Assessment Report titled: “Nigeria, An Assessment of the Investment Climate in 26 states”, is that there are critical constraints in Nigeria that impede the development of the non-oil sector. Some of the critical issues include electricity, which affects the productivity and competitiveness of enterprises. However, the labour cost in Nigeria is actually lower than most of Nigeria’s competitors such as Brazil and South Africa. So, there is need for Nigeria to address some of the constraints in order to take advantage of the huge investment opportunities that exist in the country.”

In his Keynote address titled: “Reforming Nigeria’s Investment Climate”, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, said that government has already embarked on far-reaching investment climate reforms in order to improve the county’s competitiveness ranking and attract more Foreign Direct Investment into the country.

Specifically, Aganga stated that his ministry was partnering the Ministry of Power to for the provision of uninterrupted electricity to nine industrial cities by the first quarter of 2013.

He said: “Very soon, most of our SMEs will start to feel the positive impact of our Investment Climate Reforms Programmes which we have embarked upon so far. In terms of electricity, we are working with the Ministry of Power to ensure that nine  industrial cities have access to uninterrupted power supply  by the first quarter of 2013 . But in terms of improving our Doing Business and Competitiveness Ranking, it will take at least a year for all the reforms we are implementing now to reflect because samples have already been taken in June last year before we began the reforms.

He stated: “In order to make Nigeria the preferred destination for investment globally, the Federal Government has already commenced an Investment Climate Reform Programme in October 2011 with support from the World Bank and DFID.

“We are currently working with the Corporate Affairs Commission, to reduce the number of days it takes to register a business, the processes and the cost. In addition, we are working to ensure that  business registration can be done from the comfort of  homes and offices.  As a pilot, we are also working with the Ministries and Agencies under the Lagos State Government to reduce the cost and time of obtaining construction permits, registering property and enforcing contracts. We are working with the tax authorities at both the Federal level and in Lagos State on how to reduce the time and cost of filing taxes.

“The Doing Business and Competitiveness Committee and the Investor-Care Committee have been revived and have recently inaugurated their technical committees. The Doing Business Report Monitoring and Review Committee will regularly monitor, review and recommend improvement on existing policies and legislation that govern the act of doing business in the country and other day-day issues faced by the industries that are barriers to enhanced productivity. The After-Care Committee will handle the deluge of complaints from investors on account of apparent irregularity and inconsistency in the implementation of some Government policies.

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