NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 22, 2016 – President Muhammadu Buhari has assured global investors of Nigeria’s commitment to work hard to become one of the most attractive places to invest.
The president said his administration had embarked on significant economic reforms to realise that goal.
Buhari gave the assurance while addressing political and business leaders from the U.S., Africa and other regions of the world at the Second United States-Africa Business Forum in New York on Wednesday.
The forum was organised by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The Nigerian leader said the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, would soon come out with wide-range of business environment reforms.
He said the reforms would create opportunities around seaports, airports, visa-on arrival, improving the speed and efficiency of land titling as well as business registration.
Buhari said some fiscal incentives included, up to five years tax holiday for activities classified as “pioneer’’.
“This will include tax-free operations, absence of restrictions on expatriate quotas in Free Trade Zones and a low VAT regime of five per cent.
“We intend to make Nigeria one of the most attractive places to do business. Nigeria remains the number one investment destination in Africa,’’ the president said.
He further said his administration would continue to strengthen government institutions in order to address the concerns of investors.
“We are weaning ourselves from a historical dependence on crude oil, diversifying our economy and putting it on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth.
“To this end, we have embarked on policies aimed at establishing an open, rules-based and market-oriented economy.
“We will continue to actively engage with the private sector at the highest levels to listen to your concerns and to assure you of our commitment to creating enabling policies in which your businesses can survive,” Buhari said.
He urged participants to take advantage of the forum to establish and strengthen business relationships, share valuable experiences and collaborate for mutual benefits.
The president further said that enormous potential existed for investment in Nigeria, adding that the country’s huge population formed part of the opportunities.
He listed the others as arable land; forest waters; oil and gas; solid minerals; livestock and tourism.
On the present state of the economy, Buhari said: “these are no doubt challenging times for the Nigerian economy.
“But let me use this opportunity to boldly affirm our conviction that there is no crisis without an accompanying opportunity.
“In our case, we see Nigeria’s ongoing economic challenges occasioned mainly by the fall in oil prices as an opportunity to set the economy firmly on the path of true diversification, sustainable economic growth and shared prosperity.’’
The president said the reform measures taken by his administration since inception in 2015 had started yielding good fruits, adding that the benefits were visible in security, anti-corruption war.
He said the government was vigorously working hard to close up the infrastructure deficit and promote industrial productivity, agriculture, mining and technology.
“Young Nigerians are increasingly demonstrating that they have the talent and the passion to leverage on these opportunities,’’ he said.
On U.S.-Nigeria business relations, the president announced the commencement of the US-Nigeria Commercial and Investment Dialogue with a focus on the infrastructure, agriculture and digital economy.
He also named investment and regulatory reform to be jointly led by the Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and his U.S. counterpart as part of the relationship.
The president said he looked forward to increased trade and investment flows between Nigeria and the U.S.