Larbie: Nigeria Remains Attractive Investment Destination

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Hamid Ayodeji

The Chief Executive Officer of Rand Merchant Bank Nigeria (RMBN) and Regional Head, West Africa, Michael Larbie, has emphasised that despite the recent economic headwinds in Nigeria, the country remains an attractive investment destination.

Larbie, said this whilst speaking during a panel session at the 2019 Annual Investor Day which took place recently in London recently.

According to a statement, the conference, partly sponsored by RMBN and organised by the Association of Assets Custodians of Nigeria focused on stimulating foreign investors interest by convening a forum for market participants, institutions and regulators. The panellists discussed Nigeria as an attractive investment destination, recent developments in the Nigerian securities markets, capital markets regulations and the role of key securities market operators.

Continuing, Larbie noted that efforts in ensuring a conducive business environment in Nigeria were yielding some positive results. This, he said showed by Nigeria moving up 23 places in the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking to 146 in 2019, from 169 of 190 countries ranked in 2016.

RMB Africa research also confirmed the improved attractiveness of Nigeria as an investment destination, with Nigeria moving up five places to eighth position in its annual ‘Where to Invest in Africa’ report.  

He also noted that the government was also providing incentives to investors in select sectors known as pioneer sectors and opening free trade zones to boost manufacturing and trade.

“From a demographic perspective, Nigeria has one of the most attractive demographics in Africa boasting of a young population with a median age of 18 years, the largest labour force (90 million) and consumer market ($270 billion) in Africa.

“In addition to these, Nigeria is strategically located in the Gulf of Guinea, providing access to export goods to developed markets as well as the potential to be Africa’s manufacturing hub,” he added.

The RMBN boss also noted that Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit which requires a funding of $3 trillion over a 30-year period also provides significant investment opportunities for potential investors.

He, however, noted the need for clarity of regulations and improved security.

According to him, a deliberate and concerted effort by government partnering with the private sector to improve education, healthcare and infrastructure are catalysts to ensure Nigeria truly benefits from its large and growing population.  

The conference was organised to promote foreign portfolio investment (FPI) inflows into Nigeria. The theme of the conference was, ‘Nigeria – The Economics of the Capital Market.’

The panel sessions dissected Nigeria as a case study in terms of the push and pull of investment opportunities, the capital market opportunities available, the safety of investments and the role of custodians, fund managers, broker dealers, and regulators in upscaling the market.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who was at the event, reiterated the strength of Nigerian banks and the broader banking system. According to him, the central bank has a strong bias for monetary policy that is conducive for growth and ensures a stable currency during his session at the conference.

Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, the Head of Global Markets, RMB Nigeria, Nadia Zakari, said the addition of custody services to the product offering of the bank would further deliver end-to-end efficient trading and post trading experience of the bank’s existing and future clients.

Also, the Head of Custody, RMB Nigeria, Abiodun Adebimpe, noted that recent developments in the securities markets such as CSCS’s risk management assessment upgrade from A to A+, stable and liquid FX markets, launch of FMDQ Clear to support derivatives, among others, were testaments to the fact that Nigeria is open for business and is a market that welcomes and listens to investors.

The Head of Research for RMB Nigeria Stockbrokers, Gbenga Sholotan, noted the role of key securities market operators in providing a forum to drive healthy debate and prompt action by market regulators and operators in creating a sustainable, transparent and efficient market.

He said Nigeria’s investment environment would continue to experience growth given the focus of key market operators in the areas of cutting edge product development to enhance market liquidity.