Global investors keen on Nigeria

A Partner and Emerging Markets and Global Deputy Leader, Ernst & Young, Mr. Rohan Malik, has said international investors are interested in investing in Nigeria as the country presents huge opportunities.

Mr Malik identified the financial services sector as one of the five sectors that hold massive opportunities for Nigeria amid the sustained drop in global oil prices.

Other sectors, according to him, are telecommunications, manufacturing, real estate and agriculture.

Malik, who visited Nigeria last week, said, “I think the international community is looking at Nigeria with great expectations from the new regime.
When I talked to international investors, they see Nigeria as a beacon of hope because of the vast demographic dividend you have got with the young population.
I feel the government should take this opportunity with the low oil price to say, ‘What could this low oil price actually give to us?’”

He said investors would be interested in investing in any part of the world where they can get investment opportunities with the right optimum level of risks and returns.
He said, “Today Nigeria has to compete for investments with the likes of India, China, the Middle East, South America, the so-called higher growth markets.
“The global investors are still looking at deals. I was talking to some of the investors recently and they said, ‘We have got more money than bankable projects today.’ In other words, money is not the problem. So I think Nigeria is to compete in a much harsher climate today with other economies and they are looking at Nigeria vis-a-vis India, China and others.”

He explained, “The sector where I believe there is an advantage which Nigeria has got, but it comes down to how you formalise and shape these, are financial services.
Thinking about banking the unbanked, people who don’t have bank accounts today are huge. It is a huge opportunity to get them on.

“Telecommunications. If you look at the opportunities which technology is giving today to governments around the world and for citizens, there is a huge amount of opportunities right now.”

He noted that the biggest area could be agriculture, saying, “If you think about the volume of people in Nigeria who are involved in agriculture – over 50 per cent – how can you ignore the biggest sector of all? And agriculture can lead to things like food processing.

“So financial services, telecommunications, manufacturing, real estate and agriculture will give you great dividends,” Malik said.

He described the decline in oil prices as an opportunity for economies who depend on oil as a major source of revenue to make change happen.

“So, I feel this is a golden opportunity for the government to actually shape policies that will deliver impact to the vast majority of the population in Nigeria.”

The EY partner, who stressed the need for the government to encourage entrepreneurship in the country, said government bureaucracies, regulations and lack of policy implementation were some of the challenges facing entrepreneurs.

He said, “Access to funding remain an issue, not because there is no funding; it is because there are not enough bankable projects.
Many entrepreneurs don’t know what it will take to fund a business. They underestimate very often the actual amount of investment required.

“The second one is access to markets. Many entrepreneurs don’t understand how they can access the markets beyond the local context; how they can be national and international.
For me, that is a common challenge that I find right now that an entrepreneur or a small business remains local.

“I think this is a huge challenge that government think that their job is done when they produce policies. That is the first step on the journey. How can you go from policy to outcomes is the challenge, and entrepreneurs suffer from that.”