Monday, 8 August 2011

Nigeria: a county of tremendous potential

I was honoured to be invited to address the Business Environment Roundtable on the 2011 Nigerian Economic Road Map by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry last month to provide an international perspective to their discussions of Nigeria's development plans.

Nigeria is a county of tremendous potential that should be leading in Africa and the world, a population of 150 million people all of whom are potential entrepreneur as anyone that knows the country will be able to testify to. The Current Administration aims to make Nigeria on the world's 20 largest countries by 2020, this is achievable. Indeed, Goldman Sachs believes that with the right reforms, Nigeria would be the world's fifteenth largest economy by 2050 and Standard Chartered the largest economy in Africa by 2013.

Nigeria is making good progress - the recent elections have solidify the image of Nigeria as a working and fair democracy, even Britain's traditionally negative press could find little to complain about. Nigeria's work in securing peace and democracy in the region, particularly its vocal defence of the principal of Democratic Succession in Cote d'Ivoire, has helped elevate the county to new levels on the international stage.

The key challenge for Nigeria to tackle if it is to meet its potential is its infrastructure deficit. The Central Bank estimates that Nigeria needs to invest $100billion (about N15 trillion) over the next 10 years to fill the deficit. In the power sector. Nigeria expends about $13 billion every year providing power from diesel generators when only about

$10 billion per year is required in investment over the next few years to develop our generation, distribution and transmission capacities. Generating power from generators adds more than 40 percent to the cost of goods and services in Nigeria.

Given the scale of the investment required the only truly viable way of meeting the need is though, public-private partnership. Government needs to work closely with business, both national and international, to ensure that the funding to tackle this deficit is met.

Nigeria is going to remain a country of tremendous opportunity for investor for foreseeable future and I would encourage, everyone to look at the opportunities there for their own businesses.

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