In the last five years, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has not hidden his desire to change the narrative of the national economy for the better. Mr. Emefiele, a consummate professional banker, who few months back got reappointed for another five-year tenure as the nation’s number one banker, has used every opportunity to market Nigeria to both local and international investors, telling them why it is good for them to show more than a passing interest in Africa’s largest economy.
Another of such opportunity was thrown at the CBN governor recently at the second Nigeria-Canada Investment Summit which held in Abuja. Addressing a quality audience at the event, Emefiele did not disappoint as he urged the potential investors, drawn from the two countries to hasten up and come to Nigeria as the country “presents a wide array of investment opportunities for investors seeking good returns relative to other emerging economies”.
According to him, Nigeria which accounts for 47 per cent of West Africa’s population and over 65 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), serves as a “significant gateway for investors seeking to enter the West African market”. He informed his audience that Nigeria is blessed with abundant natural resources as the country is the world sixth largest producer of crude oil and Africa’s largest oil exporter and has the largest natural gas reserves in the continent. Beyond oil and gas, he also stated that Nigeria is home to over 34 different solid minerals that can be produced in large commercial quantities.
Emefiele noted that, it was gratifying that a number of Canadian companies are already harnessing or seeking to harness the huge opportunities in the solid minerals sector as well as the oil and gas sector of the Nigerian economy.
He however told his audience that the narrative about the Nigerian economy is not just about only oil and gas, as the sector contributes about 70 per cent of the country’s export earnings, but contributes only eight per cent of Nigeria’s GDP. Rather, the CBN governor stated that the agricultural sector is more dominant as it constitutes over 20 per cent of the nation’s GDP.
Emefiele described the agricultural sector as one filled with “immense opportunities as Nigeria has over 39 million hectares of uncultivated agricultural land”, pointing out that “these opportunities, if well harnessed, can provide immense value to investors willing to invest in the processing aspects of Nigeria’s agricultural value chain”.
Stoking the interests of the potential investors further, the governor of the apex bank, informed his audience that with Nigeria’s growing population, investment opportunities are also rife in the key sectors of the economy such as
information and communications technology (ICT), manufacturing, solid minerals and the service sectors of the economy.
He further told his audience that the Nigerian economy has shown strong resilience having survived in 2016, three major shocks namely; the over 70 per cent dropping oil prices, geo¬political tensions along critical trading routes in the world as well as the end of quantitative easing and normalisation of monetary policy by the United States’ Reserve Bank, which raised the global interest rates thus precipitating capital reversals in emerging markets economies including Nigeria.
Emefiele exuding the confidence of a supper Salesman, told his spell bound audience that “regardless of these shocks, Nigeria remains a rich and high-yield destination for investments, with continually i m p r o ving s o c i a l a n d macroeconomic conditions and a resilient financial sector”.
He informed his audience that following series of policy measure put in place by the monetary and fiscal authorities, the economy positive outcome beginning to recover from the shocks of 2016 in 2017. According to him, the measures which ensured that the Nigerian economy moved out of the danger zone include the appropriate tightening of monetary policy stance, the introduction of the Investors and Exporters (I&E) at the foreign exchange market. The I&E window allowed investors to bring in foreign exchange at the prevailing rate, and also allowed investors to repatriate 100 per cent of their profits from the same window.
The CBN governor stated that the I&E window has helped to improve investor confidence in the Nigerian market and supported inflows of over $55 billion into the Nigerian market between 2017 and 2019. In addition, Emefiele explained that the apex bank as a deliberate policy, “implemented various intervention programmes aimed at supporting growth in the real sector, as well as restricted access to foreign exchange supply on 43 items that could be produced locally”.
Short of beating his chest, the CBN governor declared that the Nigerian economy has not done badly when compared to other economies of its peers. His words: “Nigeria did not do badly vis-a-vis other emerging
markets economies like Brazil, South Africa, Turkey and Argentina that had similar economic experiences. We have been able to keep real GDP growth positive and have avoided double-dip recession in contrast to some other emerging market economies”.
Gazing at his cryst ball, Emefiele told his audience that ” in the light of the current developments in the global and domestic economies, and based on extensive simulations, the CBN is of the view that the short term outlook of the Nigerian economy remains positive”.
He assured the potential investors that the apex bank has drawn-up a roadmap for the next five years in order to help place the economy on a part of sustainable and prosperous recovery. He assured them that the apex bank would continue to work with the fiscal authorities to target a double digit growth by the next five years, just as it is committed to bringing down inflation to single digit rates while accelerating the rate of employment.
Emefiele expressed strong optimism that the potential Canadian investors would work with Nigerians in leveraging their strengths towards harnessing some of the immense gains available in the Nigerian market, which according to him, would be mutually beneficial for both countries.