America Restates Commitment to Grow Nigeria’s Economy

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By Emma Okonji

American Business Council (ABC), a trade platform and voice of American businesses operating in Nigeria, has restated its commitment to support trade in Nigeria and to grow the Nigerian economy, despite challenges that range from policy implementation, access to foreign currency, political uncertainty, to specific industry regulations.

The council identified the challenges in its recent survey, tagged: ‘2020 Nigeria Economic Impact Survey’, which it administered in collaboration with the United States Embassy, Verraki, KPMG and PwC.

The survey, which was released last week, analysed the economic effect of United States (US) companies on the Nigerian economy between 2019 and 2020. It measured changes in business revenue, foreign investment, job creation, gross value added and plans for expansion within the period.

According to the survey report, over 65.12 per cent of US companies operating in Nigeria, identified Nigeria as the regional hub for their operations in West Africa, yet the report showed that there was a drop in the creation of direct and indirect jobs in 2019 by American companies, compared to what was obtained in 2018. The report also showed a decrease in generated revenue from $1.47 trillion in 2018 to $1.08 trillion in 2019. The survey report further explained a reduction in the amount of planned investments in the next three years to $2.37 billion, compared to the over $2.57 billion that was spent on expansion in the last five years.

Although the report identified government policy implementation and specific industry regulation as some key factors that were responsible for the drop in business activities in 2019 and 2020, the President, ABC, Mr. Dipo Faulkner, while analysing the report also attributed that challenges faced by American companies, to include the effect of COVID-19 pandemic and the global economy restructuring.

He, however, said ABC would not be deterred by the challenges, since most of them were global in nature.

“The effect of COVID-19 and the global restructuring affected the impact of American businesses on the Nigerian economy in the areas of job creation, expansion of investments and revenue generation, but ABC is creating jobs in Nigeria through the over 100 American companies operating in Nigeria, thereby impacting the Nigerian economy with direct and indirect jobs, which has helped in addressing unemployment in Nigeria,” Faulkner said.

Partner at PWC, Mr. Chijioke Uwaegbute, who presented the report, however called on the Nigerian government to address some of the challenges that were traced to policy implementation and specific industry regulation.

According to him, policy development and implementation should be driven by the right data and there must be conscious efforts of the government to collaborate with the people that will be directly impacted by the policy, such as the organised private sector.

“Most policies may sound good on paper but the successful implementation might be a challenge if the stakeholders are not carried along. Policies must be based on data that are verifiable and the collaboration with those stakeholders that will receive the directive impact of the policies, is key. The Executive Order on the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria is good but the implementation process needs to be looked into in order to enhance our global raking in the Ease of Doing Business,” Uwaegbute said.

Chief Executive Officer/Executive Secretary, ABC, Margaret Olele, said Nigerian businesses, especially Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), must develop themselves with the right digital skills that are available in the global job market, in order to be part of the digital transformation era.

“With the right environment and policies, Nigerian government can help American companies to maximize their business and at the same time, grow the Nigerian economy because American businesses have come to stay in Nigeria for the long term,” Olele said.

She also spoke about the need for Nigerian SMEs to engage themselves in capacity building that will help them become digitally skilled to provide digital services that are required in today’s global digital economy.