Resurgent UK trade and investment in Nigeria

Nigerian Minister Finance Dr Yerima Lawal NgamaDr Yerima Lawal Ngama, Nigeria's Honourable Minister of Finance.Many British-based investors are looking at Nigeria, to get to know the markets for energy, minerals, and infrastructure, and to engage with enterprises on the ground

Nigeria is the UK's second largest market in Africa, and there are ongoing investment initiatives aimed at developing infrastructure - notably, sourced externally from the United Kingdom, and from a London Stock Exchange investor base.

Efforts are aimed at creating opportunities and commercial climates to suit these investors, too. Progress and potential are plentiful, and the UK and Nigeria are well on the way to building a stronger and more sustainable business partnership, with ties to common cultural and geopolitical concerns.

Taken as an economic entity, Nigeria represents a serious business proposition, and is increasingly seen as such. The challenges involved in developing the nation's infrastructure are now understood to be opportunities to invest rather than obstacles to investment.

UK Trade and Investment acts very much as a conduit to business, and gains much from British ministerial support in achieving a doubling of trade between the UK and Nigeria by 2014. Key sectors include oil and gas, and financial and banking services. However, areas such as agriculture and retail are also crying out for investment, and for British expertise and technical knowledge.

And the Nigeria government is using such bilateral prospects to take concrete steps towards facilitating development of financial structures and national infrastructure to incentivise business and consumer activity - including the prospect of a high speed train lane between commerce in Logos and governments in Abuja - as part of a wider programme of multi-modal restructuring of the nation's transport systems.

An increasingly serious business proposition

Look to the example of the Central Bank of Nigeria's Cash Lite initiative. Look to the Nigerian government's petroleum bill, currently being passed through the nation's parliament. Look at the country's efforts towards the transformation of industrial bases. These examples contribute to a significance amongst economies, in African terms and amongst the world's leading nations.

Nigeria's Minister of State for Finance, Dr Yerima Lawal Ngama, represented developments in Nigeria's financial management at the UK-Nigeria Bilateral Banking, Finance and Investment Development Conference - held in London, in the UK, in February 2013. He observed the significance of economic reforms across Africa, in terms of changing the way business is down.

Ngama offered the IMF's prediction of Nigeria's growth in the decades to come, and observed the such growth expectations are not in fact based on the oil sector, but, rather, on the telecoms sector, and on manufacturing - and in agriculture, which is benefiting from state investment of 40mn Naira.

A strong factor in the growth to come is the developments of a viable and reliable power sector, allied to an increasingly investor-friendly commercial climate.

Minister Ngama observed, also, that reforms to revenue collection have been a key component in growth - with revenues collected growing from less than half a trillion Naira annually to over five trillion Naira annually, in just over a decade.

All this translates into a Nigerian economy geared towards export and job creation. Minister Ngama spoke of the creation of 370,000 jobs each year in the years remaining in this decade - a highly ambitious target, supported by an internship programme and a targeting primarily of uneducated youth. There is a focus, too, on education, with primary and secondary schooling delivered online and onsite to the nation's more remote regions, underserved communities and nomadic peoples - and a focus by President Goodluck Jonathan's administration on the expansion of further education through the building of new universities and colleges.

"We have very good minds in Nigeria. We have to challenge them to succeed," Minister Ngama said.

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