The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has said that the dwindling of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into Nigeria was the direct result of an inclement economic policy environment which constrained the ability of foreign investors to take ample advantage of the huge investment opportunities prevalent in Nigeria.
The LCCI in a communiqué issued at the end of the second edition of the Lagos International Investment Conference in Lagos said that even though Nigeria has enormous opportunities for investments with some of the highest returns on investment globally, the country has failed to attract foreign investors.
Mr. Sola Oyetayo, Vice President and Chairman trade promotion board, LCCI, who signed the communique, urged the Federal Government to reconfigure a more liberal economic policy framework that will unlock the opportunities inherent in agriculture, information and communications technology (ICT), green energy, transport, and tourism, amongst others.
The conference reaffirmed the importance of a comprehensive economic blueprint that will provide the right set of incentives for both local and international investors towards making Nigeria a competitive destination for investment inflows and improving the ease of doing business.
The conference with the theme “Positioning the Nigerian Economy for Diversification and Sustainable Growth” was attended by the president of the Chamber, Dr. Nike Akande, who was the host, the Honourable Minister of State, Industry, Trade & Investment, Mrs. Aisha Abubakar; Honourable Commissioner, Lagos State Ministry of Commerce, Prince Rotimi Ogunleye, who represented the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode; Ambassador of the EU to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Michel Arrion; Dr. Reuben Bamidele, who represented the Country Representative of United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); among other dignitaries.
While recognising that the Nigerian economy remained one of the most viable in Africa with diverse natural resources and a large market with a huge demographic advantage that can propel the diversification drive of the current administration, the conference observed that underutilization of the country’s natural endowments has stifled the growth of the economy and limited the opportunity for diversification, especially of the external sector.
“The urgent need therefore to move away from the precarious dependence on one major source of foreign exchange earnings by diversifying the export base of the economy through an all-embracing economic development strategy has become imperative,” the communiqué said.
Participants at the conference canvassed that rebalancing the economy for a more vibrant export sector requires the effective collaborative efforts of both the government and the private sector. This they say will be achieved through the provision of the required enabling environment that will spur and redirect resources toward an export-led growth.
According to the conference, agricultural sector remained an important sector in providing jobs to the teeming youth and ensuring food security. “A significant improvement in investment in the sector would improve on the per-hectare use of fertilizers, irrigation and mechanization so as to significantly improve agricultural productivity, thereby curbing rural-urban migration.
“Investments in commercial agriculture offers a great window of opportunity which should be exploited to the fullest, alongside encouraging and empowering small and medium scale farmers.
“There is a need for Nigeria to develop a national tourism policy clearly focused on cultural tourism or ecotourism or perhaps a combination of both. In this regard, the various tourism locations and potential all over the country should be developed with the help of private sector operators and investors.
“The exit from Nigeria of some major airlines should be considered a serious course for concern and all effort should be made to bring them back. The Ministry of Aviation should convene a stakeholders meeting on the best way to retain and enhance Nigeria’s status as the aviation hub for West and Central Africa.
“Government should also consider the option of forming a new Ministry of Aviation and Tourism, as has been successfully done by some countries in Africa and the Middle East with remarkable success.”