United States (U.S.) High Commission Consul-General F. John Bray has said $1.3billion American businesses in Nigeria are threatened.
The threats, according to him, are coming from instability in the exchange rate, policy inconsistency, poor electricity, dearth of infrastructure, regulatory and security issues.
He said American investors are into three specific sectors–consumer products, oil and gas. Bray spoke in Lagos at the 2018 International Investment Conference with the home, Promoting Investment, Connecting Business.
The forum was organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI).
Bray said though the Nigerian economy was not growing at 2.3 per cent, unlike Cote d’Ivoire, which is growing at seven per cent, it is still the toast of investors as a result of this country’s population.
He said American investors have issues with how policies are made and changed, noting that it has the capacity to discourage investors into the country. He cited regulatory issues, such as the one involving MTN, which had led to the directive for the telco to return cash allegedly ferried out of the country without recourse to laid down procedures.
The envoy said it has the capacity to discourage any investor as there seems not to be a clear-cut obedience to rule of law to protect investors.
He regretted that the country has image problem which needed to be addressed urgently, stressing that though security concerns remain an issue, it is not enough to discourage genuine investors as what they need to do is just to take care of their personal or corporate existence.
On infrastructure, he encouraged the building of competitive infrastructure and stressed the need to connect cities and states for easy movement of goods and services.
Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission, Ms Laure Beaufils said out of the £400million United Kingdom investment in Africa, Nigeria has a large chunk of it but regretted that UK investors are sometimes confused as to the risks inherent in investing in the country and how to mitigate them.
She also criticised the policy somersaults in the country which is capable of discouraging any investor and cited the MTN issue with the regulatory authorities as an example. She noted that some regulatory decisions are not good for the development and growth of the economy especially in job creation.
Earlier, LCCI President, Babatunde Paul Ruwase, said the economy is in dire need of private investment to create jobs, diversify the economy, grow government revenue and improve the welfare of the people. He called for investment in the non-oil sector as it is more inclusive and integrated. Ruwase regretted the marginal drop in the 2019 Ease of Business report and called for the right policies with investment friendly institutions.
Chairman, LCCI International Arbitration Centre, Babatunde Fagbohunlu stressed the need for intergovernmental agencies collaboration and knowledge sharing. According to him, if the country wants to attract investment, the relevant agencies of government must partner to deliver service to