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Boosting Development In Africa Via AfDB’s  Investment Forum

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The African Development Bank (AfDB), put the financial outlay to finance Africa’s development needs at between 600 to 700 billion US dollars annually.
Of this amount, about 130-170 billion US dollars, was needed annually to address infrastructural deficit.
In order to get the needed funds to address the numerous development challenges in Africa, the AfDB launched the African Investment Forum (AIF).
The AIF is a platform to mobilise private equity funds, sovereign wealth funds and the private sector to facilitate infrastructure projects with the capacity to transform the continent.
The inaugural edition of the AIF was held in South Africa, while the second edition was also scheduled to hold in Johannesburg, South Africa, from November 11 to November 13.
Ahead of the November meeting, AfDB President,  Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has appealed to investors to attend the bank’s 2019 AIF.
He spoke at Africa 50 General Shareholders meeting, held recently in Kigali, Rwanda.
Adesina said that Africa was ready for massive investments and offered an attractive investment destination.
He said that AIF, will bring together members with vested interest in Africa’s growth and development
“If you are an investor, do not miss Africa Investment Forum 2019, Africa is ready for massive investments and the environment is getting more attractive for investors.
“One such investment is the construction of the bridge that will connect the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, a 550 million dollar transaction being led by Africa 50 in partnership with AfDB,” he said.
Adesina emphasised that the recently launched African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) had opened possibilities for an integrated single market for Africa.
He, however, pointed out that the continent needed to be connected through roads, rail, ports, airports, ICT backbones and energy corridors in order to enjoy the full benefits of the agreement.
Africa 50 is an innovative fund for developing and financing infrastructure in Africa, funded by AfDB, African governments, private and institutional investors.
“Africa 50 is on track to launch a private sector third party fund to leverage one billion dollar from private sector institutional investors.
“I encourage countries that have not yet joined Africa50 to do so.
“Join us as we move towards a future of great promise for Africa. Join us as we lay the foundation for a more prosperous Africa,” Adesina said.
Nigeria Country Department of AfDB, in collaboration with Africa Finance Corporation, recently organised a road show in Abuja, to sensitise stakeholders on gains of the AIF.
Ekiti governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who spoke at the event, emphasised the role of private capital to deliver the infrastructure required to grow Nigeria’s economy.
While expressing hope that Nigeria and other African countries would record significant investments that will boost the economy, Fayemi said that private investments are critical in providing jobs for millions of young Nigerians.
According to him, with the support of AfDB, African Finance Corporation and the quality of investors that attended the inaugural edition, the second edition would be successful.
“I am confident that if we put our best foot forward, we will receive significant funding commitment for investments across Nigeria and Africa,’’ the governor said.
Senior Bank Director,  Nigeria Country Office, of AfDB, Mr Ebrima Faal,  highlighted Nigeria’s prominence during the 2018 forum.
He pointed out that Nigeria was very visible and urged industry players and policy makers to maximise opportunities that the 2019 forum would provide.
Faal urged them to connect, engage and close high-impact deals.
He further recounted that last year’s edition of AIF held in South Africa recorded attendance of  2000 participants, representing 87 countries, including eight heads of government.
“Deals worth 46.9 billion dollars were discussed with 49 deals valued at 38.7 billion dollars secured.
“These figures are not just impressive for an attempt at something that has never been done on the continent, but phenomenal.
“The AfDB and its partners are excited to present you with the only platform that allows you to instantly pitch and close monumental deals on the spot.
“We encourage you to engage early and wholesomely to be part of re-writing Africa’s economic history,’’ Faal said.
According to Africa Finance Corporation Senior Director, Mr Taiwo Adeniji, “building on the success recorded in 2018, it is expected that Nigeria will be a major participant at the 2019 forum.
“The Africa Finance Corporation is keen to support Nigerian businesses across sectors to ensure effective project implementation to boost economic development.
“We are now seeing positive momentum in building transparent and durable institutions to anchor the political economy, promote and support development of the private sector.
“This is in order to increase the pace, depth and spread of economic growth in Africa,’’ Adeniji said.
On his part, a former Minister of Information and Communications, Mr Frank Nweke, identified early preparations as crucial in positioning Nigeria to meet international business and social impact investors eager to invest in Africa.
“Early preparation is also key, not only to prepare for the deals but being able to present them to a wide range of global investors.
“These investors are coming from different classes.
“We are talking about pension funds, sovereign wealth funds globally and in the continent, asset managers, commercial investment bankers so it is a wide array of investors that we are looking at.
“So we need to showcase very high transactions; we need to prepare projects and this is essential,’’ Nweke said.
Similarly, former Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, urged the federal government to support the preparation.
“Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) must sit down to discuss what we expect.
“This preparation has to be done every time we are going to a forum.
“So when they go, they come into contact with investors and they will be interested in what is being presented.
“The potential investor wants to see where you are coming from, from the beginning to the end, they want to see their way through,’’ she said.
The Head, Private Sector Investment Operations, AIF/AfDB, Mr Odiogo Ezekiel, stressed that getting the projects bankable is also critical.
With the awareness raised through the road show, stakeholders say Nigeria will record more investment opportunities after the 2019 AIF.
Uwadileke writes for News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

 

Ikenna Uwadileke

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Forex Restriction On Food Importation Requires Clarity -MAN

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The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) says clarity is needed on President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive on restriction of foreign exchange for food importation.
Director-General of MAN, Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadir disclosed this last Friday in Lagos.
It would be recalled that President Buhari gave the directive when he hosted the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors at his country home in Daura, Katsina state during Eid-el-Kabir on August 13.
The president said the foreign reserve would be used strictly for diversification of the economy and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food.
“Though the directive was laudable, clarity would be required and the country needed to be deliberate and strategic in pursuing such a far-reaching monetary measure.
“Especially in the light of our vulnerability occasioned by trade agreements that require the country to be more open to imports and the well-known antics of our neighboring countries,” Ajayi-Kadir said in a statement.
According to him, the directive is broad and needs to be specific and targeted, adding that there should be strategic implementation to achieve the purpose intended by government.
“We need to know what type of food; finished and ready to eat or as input for further processing.
“In the case of the latter (in particular) we need to know the local capacity available compared to national demand and if not adequate, creditably determine what time and resources are needed to ramp up capacity and production.
“It is pertinent to pre-determine these suggestions as part of the implementation strategy.
“To achieve sustainable self-sufficiency, local producers ought to be incentivised otherwise we may be inviting a looming barrage of smuggling activities,” he said.
He warned that the policy might be counterproductive if implemented by fiat, without ensuring necessary alignment with the fiscal and other economic policy initiatives of the present administration.
Ajayi-Kadir stressed that the necessary support that would sustain the “steady progress in agricultural production” and attainment of “full food security” should be considered.
He added that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would need to conduct an assessment of the country’s position in practical terms and realistically weigh its options before embarking on such a far-reaching policy.
“There should also be a process to be followed before such a plan is unfolded. On an issue as critical as this, a unilateral decision could be counterproductive when the operators are not duly consulted.
“We must also consider the state of our infrastructure and its capacity to respond and support the policy,” he said.
Ajayi-Kadir said MAN actively supported resource-based industrialisation, and its stance had been on improving local sourcing of raw materials and developing sustainable value chains.
He said the association believed that value addition to products created more jobs and wealth for the nation.

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Tackle Insecurity To Boost Foreign Investment, Group Tells FG

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The Committee on Youth Mobilisation and Sensitisation (CYMS) has called on the Federal Government to tackle issues of insecurity in the country in order to boost direct foreign investment.
The Director General, CYMS,Mr Obinna Nwaka, made the call when the group appeared on a Personality Interview Programme of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Forum, yesterday in Abuja.
Nwaka said foreign investors would not come to invest their money in an environment that is not secured, because of uncertainty of re-cupping their investments.
According to him, every good business person prefers a predictable and serene environment to invest their money.
He said the government must do all it could to ensure that the country was seen to be peaceful by the international community to boost the confidence of those willing to invest in the country.
Nwaka while speaking on issues affecting youths in the country, said that unemployment was critical and must also be tackled by the government.
He advised that the government should ensure that all its agencies undergoing recruitment should provide a level playing ground for all citizens, so that the people who are qualified could be given employment.
“They should not hijack it from above and they should allow the Federal Character Commission, the Senate, the Ministry of Employment, Labour and Productivity to also be part of the recruitment processes.
“With this, people who deserve to be employed will be employed, people who have the passion to serve in the military or para-military will be given opportunity to serve in the military.
“Not people who don’t have the passion but because they have a godfather in the government, after giving them the employment they stay back at home they don’t go to the war front,” he said.
He said the issue of ‘godfatherism’ should be eradicated from recruitment and every citizen should be given the same opportunity to show their capability in any job.
Nwaka said that President Muhammadu Buhari should endeavour to put someone with detail knowledge of agriculture to serve as the minister.
He said this was because agriculture seems to be the only sector for now that could ensure adequate employment for young people.
The group leader added that the young people are now willing to make themselves relevant in the agricultural sector.
“So, these fundamental issues, security, and ensuring a level playing ground in recruitment processes and agriculture are very crucial.
” If the Federal Government can look into these three key issues, I believe the level of unemployment and crimes will reduce in this country.

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Insecurity: Expect Drop In FDIs – Expert

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A university teacher, Prof. Sarah Anyanwu of the Department of Economics, University of Abuja, says with the increasing insecurity in the country, a drop in Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) is expected.
Prof. Anyanwu said this yesterday in Abuja while speaking with newsmen.
According to her, every investor wants a conducive business environment for his capital and will not want to establish businesses in places where security is not guaranteed.
“Even as a Nigerian, not to talk of foreigners, you will not go and site an industry in areas where insurgency is the order of the day.
“There is kidnapping and herdsmen killing going on at the same time and foreigners keep hearing that people are being kidnapped daily and ransom has to be paid.
“So, for those that already have investments in Nigeria, that is enough to drive them out and those that are out will not be willing to come in.
“Both the rich and poor are being kidnapped, so it is a problem to even Nigerians and not foreigners alone”, she said.
Prof. Anyanwu was also worried about the porousness of Nigerian borders, saying it is a major source of concern as foreigners who had no business being in Nigeria at all came and went at will.
Anyanwu said the nation’s borders should be strictly monitored with security tightened at all points to keep track of movement in and out to avoid people coming in anyhow to commit crime.
She, however, advised that security should be heightened with all security agencies playing their part to secure lives and properties.
The academic also said that no stone should be left unturned to promote the image of Nigeria internationally in every way and avoid situations where Nigerians in diaspora have to stage protests concerning the country.
According to Anyanwu, such scenarios send the wrong signal to prospective investors.
She also noted that electricity should be improved on as lack of it was driving the cost of doing business up.
Anyanwu also advocated good infrastructure to be provided for businesses to thrive.
A United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had released a report in June, saying FDIs into Nigeria plunged by 43 per cent in 2018 to two billion dollars.

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