Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday said that anyone serious about investing in Africa must come to Nigeria.
Osinbajo made this remarks at the Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja while addressing a gathering at the Nigerian Initiative for Economic Development.
According to the Acting President, Nigeria is a country open to free enterprise and it will work.
“I like the idea of investors knowing that the reason why you are coming to Nigeria is not to help Nigeria. You will ultimately end up helping Nigeria, but the reason why you are coming here is because this is a good place to do business,” Osinbajo said.
The Acting President, who echoed the thoughts of the DG of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), noted that anyone who doesn’t invest in Africa or Nigeria in 10 years’ time would be queried by the business establishment for missing out on the best possible opportunity.
Osinbajo, who said it is easy to miss out in the best business opportunity, also buttressed his point with a personal illustration.
“I remember that I was counsel; I was a lawyer, teaching in the university but also in corporate practice when the first telecom licenses were to be issued,” he said.
“And I recall that at the time, even the most optimistic of the investors (because we had only 400,000 telephone lines at the time) thought well maybe in five years, we will double the number of lines or maybe triple the number of lines and then we will make profit in about five years or ten years. There were so many who thought, well, it may not be worth it. Aaaah! You know, the business environment is a difficult one etcetera, etcetera.
“But in about a year of the licenses being granted, all of those who did not invest in it, the big telecom companies who did not invest in it, found themselves holding the short end. They realized that it was a huge mistake because in five years MTN had shown that the telecom sector in Nigeria was just incredibly profitable. They had made profit in one year. MTN alone now has something in the order of about 12 million or so lines if not more, and that’s one of the telecom companies that we have.
“So, really, Nigeria is a place that is waiting to happen and it will happen. That’s really the point. It will happen. The truth of the matter is that any country that opens itself to free enterprise, the way Nigeria is opening itself to free enterprise, will somehow find that it will work. That is one of the critical things that we are bringing into the mix.”
The Acting President said government is insisting that the only way the country can make the profit that it needs to make is by private sector investment, beginning with local investment.
“Our budget is N7 trillion this year. Now, N7 trillion is a small amount of money. I am not adding the budget of the states because if you add that it comes to something close to N20 trillion. But just looking at the federal budget it is just 7 trillion,” he said.
“But we have private sector investments that challenge that size. For example, the largest single line refinery in the world is a private sector investment and it’s going to be doing 650,000 barrels of oil every day. That refinery is purely private sector driven.
“So, really what we intend to do is to push private sector and that’s why we are doing everything that we are doing to ensure that the private sector can come in and invest,” he added.