Nigeria, UK Investors Sign N153.4bn Trade Deals - THISDAY
By Emma Okonji
Twenty one African countries, including Nigeria, met in London yesterday for the inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit, which attracted African leaders, UK and African businesses, international institutions and young entrepreneurs.
At the summit, attended by a Nigerian delegation led by President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria and the United Kingdom (UK) investors, signed business deals worth over £324 million (N153.4) billion that will help to create lasting new partnerships, deliver more investment, jobs and growth opportunities for people and businesses across Nigeria and the UK.
The summit’s main focus was on sustainable energy and female participation in the economy. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed the UK to building long-term, sustainable relationships in Africa underpinned by the UK’s values and high standards.
Buhari held private meetings with Johnson and His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles. The trade deals signed between Nigeria and the UK, as announced during the summit, included the over N153.4 billion and new UK government assistance to grow the UK-Nigeria trade and investment partnership; significant UK commitments to support Nigeria develop an enabling environment to turbo-charge economic growth, including helping address land issues for investment; strengthening and improving the finance sector; helping entrepreneurs secure access to finance; preparing the ground for the launch in the UK of naira-denominated bonds, known as “Jollof Bonds” and developing the tech sector.
Others are substantial initiatives to accelerate the clean energy transformation in Nigeria, through enhanced technical and financial support; and strong commitments to harness private sector support for social development, particularly supporting women and young people in business.
British High Commissioner, Catriona Laing, who attended the summit, said: “Nigeria was out in force at the inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit. President Buhari led the delegation and Nigerian businesses were well represented, ranging from world renowned figures, such as Tony Elumelu, through to female entrepreneurs running start ups.
“Nigeria has already secured billions of naira worth of deals from the summit. With the launch of an exciting range of initiatives to help investors identify opportunities in Nigeria, I am confident much more will follow.
“I am proud the summit had a strong focus on supporting female participation in the economy. In Africa, women are more likely to become entrepreneurs than men and, with a fast-growing population, Nigeria needs to harness the dynamism of its women to ensure prosperity for all its people.”
Head of the Department for International Development in Nigeria, Chris Pycroft, who also attended the summit said: “The private sector has a critical role to play in supporting Nigeria’s economic growth and in creating the jobs that Nigeria’s young and growing population need. The UK-Africa Investment Summit was an excellent opportunity for Nigeria to show off the wealth of opportunities it offers businesses, from agriculture to mining to tech.
“I am delighted we are able to use our aid programme in Nigeria to support this agenda – from small steps like helping the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission produce an investment guide through to the serious investment we are making in strengthening Nigeria’s agriculture and finance sectors.
“As well as stimulating the economy and creating the jobs needed to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty, this package of partnerships will deliver a range of wider social benefits, from improving energy access on to extending access to banking and loans to the poorest consumers and female entrepreneurs.”
The summit was also able to showcase some of the excellent growth and positive impact of UK companies in Nigeria. The Prime Minister’s speech made substantial reference to West Africa ENRG, a UK firm pioneering waste collection, recycling and generation in Lagos and the South West. Meanwhile, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, has said the UK’s investments in African Development Bank have paid off and delivered huge impacts in Africa.
Adesina who delivered the keynote speech yesterday at the at the summit, said: “Without any doubt, the Department for International Development (DFID) and the UK government’s investment in the African Development Bank pays off and delivers huge impacts in Africa.” He thanked the UK Secretary for International Development, Mr. Sharman Nick Dyer and his colleagues at DFID for making the UK proud with its investments at the African Development Bank, adding that together “we will do more for expanding infrastructure for Africa.”
“Just under two decades ago, Africa had fewer telephones than Manhattan in New York. Today, Africa has over 440 million cell phone subscribers. Returns on digital infrastructure are very high as the continent expands broadband infrastructure to boost connectivity and improve services.”
Citing the case of energy, Adesina said huge opportunities existed for investments in renewable energy, especially for hydropower, wind, solar, thermal and geothermal. “But many of these opportunities can’t be realised unless we invest a lot more in project preparation to make projects bankable. The African Development Bank through its NEPAD infrastructure project preparation facility has helped to mobilise financing for $8.5 billion of infrastructure projects. That’s a leverage ratio of 1:525.
“We helped to establish Africa 50, an institution to support infrastructure project preparation and financing. It has raised over $860 million and will now be establishing a $1 billion third-party private fund to finance infrastructure investments by private sector on a commercial basis,” Adesina said. He explained that the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) based at the bank, has supported investments in excess of $800 million in renewable energy.
He said the largest share of infrastructure finance was done by governments, which is about $37.5 billion annually. “There’s a need to improve the efficiency of public financing for infrastructure through better, more efficient, and competitive procurement processes, quality design, timely execution and better maintenance culture.” Equally important is the need to focus on quality infrastructure, and move beyond the least-cost projects, and focus more on life cycle costs for infrastructure,” Adesina stated.