By Naomi Uzor
THE United States of America has listed conditions for investment in Nigeria, saying Nigerian governments should expedite action in providing the necessary infrastructure if they want to attract investment to the country.
United States Consul General in Nigeria, Mr. John F. Bray, gave this hint during a business dialogue session organized by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Tagged “Security Meets Business.”
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode (right), presenting a State plaque to the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington during a courtesy visit to the Governor at the Lagos House, Ikeja.
The consul general stated that his interaction with American business community reveals that they need three conditions to be able to invest in Nigeria: “First, transparent business environment: Nigerian government needs to streamline the processes for owning a business in the country. American business community complains that the process is cumbersome and costly in Nigeria at present.
“Second, reliable infrastructure: Businesses need such infrastructure as electricity, good roads, water, internet and access to foreign currency which are very necessary for profitable investment and to be able to compete in the global arena. Investors will want to be able to dash around and also move their goods round the country smoothly and at low cost. Also, foreign currency and electricity supply must be adequate and reliable for business to thrive.
“Thirdly, security: Investors need to be sure that their investments in human and material capital are safe. He said they must be confident that their foreign and Nigerian employees are safe in their places of work. Security is a necessary condition for business to thrive, bringing along technology with them.”
The consul general noted that with the size and population of Nigeria, opportunities for investment are “broad and impressive”. He, however, regretted that challenges of doing business “cannot be underestimated”.
According to him, thousands of American companies are already doing business in Nigeria adding that more will come if the business environment improves. Furthermore, he advised that the political class should adopt dialogue as a means of resolving sensitive issues adding that dialogue, rule of law and predictable and reliable infrastructure are what investors require before making decisions on costly investments.
According to him, corruption and insecurity resulting from crime, insurgency, terrorism, and militancy are of grave concerns to investors in the country. “I want to give you one final word from the business community. The business community wants action not words. Once action is taken in addressing their concerns, investors will flock into Nigeria,” he said. The President of the LCCI, Dr. (Mrs) Nike Akande, noted that Nigeria has, in recent years, been grappling with a lot of security issues bordering on terrorism, religious and ethnic crisis, attacks on oil installations, kidnapping, armed robbery, attacks by herdsmen among many other challenges.
According to Akande, the impact of these security challenges on business is enormous. The chamber, she said, decided to organize the forum “to create a platform for discussion and exchange of ideas between the private sector, the diplomatic corps and the security agencies to deliberate on how we can make our environment more secure.