Member States of NEPAD and the international business community have been told that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP)2017-2020 of the Buhari Administration was launched with the overall objective of bringing Nigeria out of recession and placing the country on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth. Prospective investors were, also, called upon to seize the opportunity presented by the Plan to invest in some critical areas of the nation’s economy such as Power/Energy, Agriculture, Petroleum and Allied Products as well as Transportation and Solid Minerals; all of which have been seen to possess high return on investment.
The NEPAD Nigeria CEO, Princess Gloria Akobundu, who spoke at a 2-day conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa, last week tagged Infrastructure Africa Business Forum, maintained that, with over 35% return on investment, the 4th across the globe, and a population of over 192 Million people, according to United Nations’ statistics, Nigeria remains Africa’s topmost investment haven for every investor who seeks to maximize profit in an environment that has been made conducive to business success.
According to Akobundu, “the current focus of the Nigerian Government presents genuine opportunities for the country to become one of the greatest economies of the world and we invite you to be part of our success story. I know that some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world are not the best coders or sales people, rather, they are just ordinary people who are really good at seizing great opportunities such as Nigeria presents today”, she concluded.
Earlier in a keynote address, the Honourable Minister, Department of Trade and Investment, South Africa, Rob Davies, highlighted the development of infrastructure as an essential catalyst for regional integration, increased inter-regional trade and for industrialization in Africa, stressing that infrastructure development lies in the very heart of Africa’s efforts to promote high levels of inclusive growth and development throughout the continent. Davies, also, stated that there was a huge deficit in infrastructure that was necessary to support high levels of inter-regional trade that connects African countries to one another and informed that, as a continent, Africa has an infrastructure deficit estimated at $93 Billion Per Annum for the next 20 years.
While explaining that colonialism in Africa merely created infrastructure that was only good enough to fulfill its role as mere producers and exporters of primary commodities that were taken to other economies, the South African technocrat said there was need to invest heavily in infrastructure in order to catch up with the level of regional integration Africa needs to even begin to compete with other parts of the world. After noting that, in spite of the gross infrastructure deficit on the continent, Africa was also losing over 40 Percent of its competitiveness, Davies encouraged the continent to launch a number of initiatives, which, he said,were to address the energy challenge in most African countries.
Members of the Nigerian delegation to the meeting, which was led by the Honourable Minister, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, included the National Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD Nigeria, Princess Gloria Akobundu, and Al-Amin Musa, General Manager, Gas Pipelines Infrastructure, Gas and Power Directorate, NNPC, Nigeria. Copious presentations and panel discussions were made on the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020, the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria and on the Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline (TSGP) project. The Team, also, participated in various networking sessions that were aimed at further engaging investors on the various investment opportunities that exist in Nigeria.
Other Panel and Plenary Sessions, equally, brainstormed on various aspects of regional integration, finance mobilization as well as on transformational technology and innovation in Africa. Parts of the major highlights of the Conference were the presentation of outcomes, recommendations and comments on the entire events. Some of the recommendations include: That partnership initiatives should urgently be put in place by the various African Governments to address energy challenges within the continent and that, African countries must inject a sense of urgency in their infrastructure initiatives or may risk becoming the worst economic destinations in the world, among many others.
The Conference, the 6th in the series of what has come to be an annual event, brought together policymakers, Ministers of Finance and that of National Planning of Zambia; apart from those of Department of Trade and Investment from South Africa and the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry of Nigeria. There were, also, heads and representatives of several international Organizations and Agencies, who led several other investors and stakeholders to the Conference. The 2-day event succeeded in achieving a platform for a conversation by all, including business people and financiers, on what to be done to deliver on the infrastructure needs of the African continent.