VP’s Remarks At The 1st Nigeria – UK Economic Development Forum
ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, AT THE 1ST NIGERIA – UK ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FORUM, IN ABUJA, APRIL 30, 2019
UK Foreign Secretary, Mr. Jeremy Hunt, I welcome you all to the first Nigeria-UK Economic Forum, thank you for making the time to come.
I am pleased with the progress that has been achieved in implementing the Nigeria-United Kingdom Economic Development Forum (EDF), since President Muhammadu Buhari and Prime Minister Theresa May met in August 2018 and the EDF was signed.
The deep and long-standing relationship between Nigeria and the United Kingdom indicates that the current level of trade and investments between our countries is materially below the potential the relationship suggests, given that Africa represents only 2% of the UK’s trade relationships, and Nigeria represents only a tenth of that.
All hands must be on deck, to ensure that we foster the right environment to grow the level of bilateral trade and investment between our great countries.
As a government, we are not unmindful of the challenges that have hindered the business and investment environment in our country. We have taken these challenges as opportunities and have made the extensive build-out of modern infrastructure (both hard and soft) as the main thrust of our administration. In the last three years, the government has allocated and disbursed over N3.5trillion from the national budgets to infrastructure.
We are committed to improving Nigeria’s competitiveness and making our country one of the easiest places to do business globally. The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) under my leadership has made significant progress in reducing bottlenecks, eliminating redundancies and increasing transparency across government Ministries, Department and Agencies.
There is undeniable evidence that this administration is repositioning the Nigerian economy for true growth and shared prosperity. We have seen increased investor interest in Nigeria by the investment announcements that we track, with $90.9billion of investment announcements in 2018, a 37% increase over the $66.4billion tracked in 2017. We are interested in these announcements because we know that if we nurture them correctly, we can turn them into actual investments.
There is also a steady rise in investor confidence, with an increase in the number of significant deal announcements. 18 days ago, Jumia, an online marketplace company that started in Nigeria, listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the first African start-up to do so. It received such a warm investor response, that it has since appreciated over 125%!
It will be interesting to see more transactions like this, and several between Nigeria and the United Kingdom. Already, there are 4 Nigerian companies listed on the main board of The London Stock Exchange, although only one Nigerian company, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc is dual listed in both Nigeria and the UK. It is also fascinating that about half of the companies on the FTSE 100 have exposure to Nigeria.
By leveraging the EDF, I hope that we will continue to build on the existing foundation and work together on recording increased trade and investment flows, particularly in the areas where we have comparative advantages. As you create an ecosystem for increased trade and investment, I hope you will consider our greatest strength: not our mineral resources, but our people (especially the youth), who are energetic and entrepreneurial.
The relationship with the United Kingdom is of strategic importance to Nigeria and we will continue to foster it. Nigeria keenly welcomes the opportunity to actively grow the commercial bilateral relationship with the United Kingdom through the Economic Development Forum (EDF). We look forward to active participation at the Africa Investment Summit in London, early next year with a strong delegation of public and private sector officials. I also look forward to hearing about even more progress before the 2nd Ministerial meeting, later in the year.
I thank you for listening, and congratulations on this important milestone of the 1st Nigeria – United Kingdom Economic Development Forum.