OBG talks to Mustafa Bello, Executive Secretary and CEO, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC)

 Mustafa Bello, Executive Secretary and CEO, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC)

Interview: Mustafa Bello

How can import-substitution policies be transformed into investments in agriculture?

MUSTAFA BELLO: A number of concessions and fiscal incentives are being provided to investors engaged in agriculture and agro-allied activities. Examples include a 0% import duty on agricultural machinery and equipment, an export expansion grant to export-oriented agro-allied enterprises, and low-interest loans from the Agricultural and Rural Development Bank.

The government is also committed to strengthening the various agriculture research institutes that will produce improved high-yield seedlings. Other initiatives include extending services to local and small farmers, building the economy’s infrastructure to ease transfer of produce from the farm-gates to the various local and international markets and, most importantly, reviewing the Land Use Act, which remains a challenge to securing land because of the land tenure system.

What are the advantages of additional investment promotion activities at the state level?

BELLO: In recent years, the World Bank has been publishing a sub-national report on doing business in Nigeria. The report has clearly indicated the need for state governments’ commitment to being involved in efforts to improve national competitiveness. This involvement can best be driven when each state develops its capacity to attract and sustain direct investment. As a result, it is essential that all hands are on deck to make the Nigerian business environment competitive and attractive to foreign direct investors.

In this respect, the NIPC is encouraging state governments to establish a mirror agency at the local level so as to ensure effective coordination of investment promotion, facilitation and policy advocacy. It is pertinent to note that a number of state governments have already adopted this strategy and have decided to either transform existing property development agencies to promote investment or establish entirely new agencies to effectively undertake investment promotion.

What has been the impact of the eurozone crisis on investment flows from Europe?

BELLO: Without a doubt, the economic challenges in Europe are expected to affect trade relationships between the eurozone and its major trading partners, including Nigeria. Going by recent statements from the World Bank, it is imperative for economies such as Nigeria to put in place appropriate mechanisms to resist the shock in order to avoid ripple effects.

The various policy shifts by the government have been attempts to instil fiscal discipline to sufficiently insulate the economy from any adverse effects that may arise as a result of potential spill-over from the global financial crisis. Protection from such risks is key.

How big of an obstacle is Nigeria’s brand to increasing its attractiveness to investors?

BELLO: Nigeria is a huge economy that can hardly be ignored in the emerging global economy. While we do realise there are a number of challenges inhibiting its fast emergence as a leading global player, the government is doing everything possible to turn these obstacles into beneficial opportunities.

In terms of infrastructure, with particular reference to power, the current administration is determined to accomplish its goal of generating about 10,000 MW of power by the end of 2012.

The commitment to ensure the predictability of policies, adherence to rule of law and simplification of business and investment procedures remains the utmost priority. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has been renamed the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment.

The idea behind this change was to redirect government attention to the basic facts that are essential to making the environment conducive to businesses.

Regarding security, the government remains resolute in ensuring that lives are not endangered and properties are kept safe across the federation; it is taking the necessary steps to ensure terrorist acts and their perpetrators are not allowed to thrive in the country.

Anchor text: 
Mustafa Bello

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The Report: Nigeria 2012

Economy chapter from The Report: Nigeria 2012

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