Deji Elumoye in Abuja
As part of his efforts to attract investments in Nigeria, President Bola Tinubu has told the government of Saudi Arabia and the country’s investors that Nigeria is now truly open for business.
Tinubu added that with the coming of his administration, every negative perception about what Nigeria had represented in the past concerning the ease of doing business, monetary policy, and trade cooperation has ceased to be applicable now and in the future.
Speaking yesterday while deliberating with the Saudi Arabian captains of industry at the Nigeria-Saudi Investment Roundtable in Riyadh, Tinubu said Africa’s largest economy is now “open for business.”
“I believe in this team that I have brought from Nigeria. When I took office, I declared the immediate commencement of bold and fundamental economic reforms. We have executed them, and we sustain the reform process. Today, I declare that red tape is gone!
“I believe in the full application of free market economics. Your money will flow easily in and easily out. The arbitrage around our nation’s old foreign exchange policy regime and the corruption that was associated with it is also gone!
“We took on those bold endeavours from day one in preparation for serious investors like you seated here. The greatest opportunity for any entity to prosper lies in its human capital. My team is prepared. We can produce. Our market is full of Nigerian youths who are brilliant, highly educated, industrious, and passionate about innovation and engagement with world-class services.
“The navigation of the ship of this great nation lies in the membership seated here. We are ready to answer all of your questions directly, even into this night if need be. The sky is not just the limit, but it is the destination for our two countries and peoples,” the Nigerian President explained.
At the investor roundtable, according to a statement by the presidential spokesman, Mr. Ajuri Ngelale, dozens of Chief Executive Officers from several Saudi conglomerates specialising in construction, finance, new and traditional energy, healthcare, agriculture, electric power, mining, aviation, telecommunications, creative arts, and hospitality were present and made their exploratory pitches to President Tinubu on areas of tangible collaboration.
Taking notes, the president was said to have listened carefully as they made their contributions concerning new investment opportunities in Africa’s largest market.
“I have listened to all of you very intently, and I am not only impressed, but I am determined to be your partner in progress and prosperity. Nigeria will reward your faith. Our people are ready, and we will not disappoint,” President Tinubu concluded.
On his part, the Chairman of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote told Saudi investors that Nigeria, under President Tinubu, will be unearthed to the world as a foremost global investment haven.
According to him: “What I always say about Nigeria is that it is the world’s best-kept secret in terms of investments and returns. We are also looking to ensure that our investments are a two-way process. Nigerian companies have a lot of value to add to the Saudi economy, and we look forward to working together in expanding our Nigerian operations as well. The soon-coming launch of the Nigeria-Saudi Business Council will be a huge opportunity for both countries to expand on what has been established here”.
In his presentation, Saudi Arabia’s Trade and Investment Minister, Kahlid El-Falih, noted the passion and candid expression of the Nigerian leader.
He added that after listening to the president speak from his heart without any written remarks about what is possible between the two nations, Nigerians can expect that the Saudi investment community will respond not in words alone, but with substantial new investment across several sectors of the Nigerian economy.
He said: “The Minister of Commerce and I will be visiting Nigeria either before the end of this year or very early next year with a very large delegation of Saudi CEOs from all key sectors. We know you are ready for business, so we do not want to come to Nigeria for any exploratory discussion. We are coming for implementation. It is an action visit.
“Mr. President, you agree with me that good intentions alone will not take us anywhere; so, we will prepare well with your team and our investors will align with your officials, beginning now, to develop a concrete work plan of investments in the key sectors for takeoff when we meet again. When we meet soon in Abuja, it will be to sign and begin delivery on all agreements. We will also use the opportunity to formally inaugurate the Nigeria-Saudi Business Council,” the trade minister added.
Also speaking, Saudi Arabia’s Commerce Minister, Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi, previewed how Saudi Arabia can further contribute to the soft infrastructural reforms needed to unlock the game-changing quantum of foreign direct investment in Nigeria.
“We have signed an agreement with the World Economic Forum on the reform of the services sector in Africa. In developed economies, the services sector contributes enormously to GDP. But in the developing world, we tend to focus on goods. So, we would like to make Nigeria the pilot country in this agreement with WEF to study Nigeria’s service challenges to make it seamless and make the supply chains across sectors streamlined and raised to international standards to enhance Nigeria’s economic and investment viability over the long-term,” he stated.
The Nigerian government delegation comprised the Governors Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, Mohammed Umar Bago of Niger State and Dikko Umar Radda of Katsina State; Ministers of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun; Budget & Economic Planning, Senator Abubakar Bagudu; Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite; Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani; Agriculture, Senator Abubakar Kyari; Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu; and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri.
The Nigerian business delegation consisted of Alhaji Dangote; Chairman of the Chagoury Group, Ambassador Gilbert Chagoury; President of Flour Mills Nigeria, Mr. John Coumantaros; and CEO of Oando Energy Company, Mr. Wale Tinubu, among others.