The Chairman of Heirs Holdings and CEO of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Mr. Tony Elumelu has urged members of the French business community to always see Nigeria as their first choice investment destination in Africa. Mr Elumelu stated this in a speech he delivered as a guest speaker at the first ‘Colloque Nigeria,’ a colloquium on doing business and investment in Nigeria, which was organised by the French Senate at the exquisite Palais de Luxembourg in Paris
Speaking at the conference, the Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation said like every part of the world, investors in Nigeria and Africa are faced with a myriad of challenges, adding that amidst these challenges, no other destinations provided more opportunities and return on investment as do Nigeria and Africa.
“Nigeria remains a very viable, attractive and important investment and export destination for French companies. As a matter of fact, I would argue that now is a good time to come and invest in Nigeria, because it is an investor’s market. The fundamentals of the Nigerian economy remain strong,” he said.
According to Elumelu, some of the trends supporting long – term growth in Nigeria are the increased use of technology by the Nigerian population, high consumerism, young demographic and increasing urbanisation. Whilst encouraging French businesses to come and discover Nigeria, he advised the world – investors to find the right partner that would help them navigate the environment, and he stated that they need to be committed to invest in Nigeria for the long haul.
“Nigeria has always been a unique country. We are not only the most populous country on the continent of Africa, we are amongst the best educated and most-travelled people in Africa. We Nigerians are well known for our positive outlook and can-do spirit. Even more importantly, we have a strong culture and spirit of entrepreneurship. “The smart investor knows that this is the time to enter our market because the fundamentals of the Nigerian economy remain strong, and where others perceive risk and challenge, the glass is actually half full rather than half empty,” Elumelu said.
Nigeria still highest investment destination
He asserted that despite the current challenges faced by Nigeria, occasioned by the sharp drop in commodity prices, the country still offers one of the highest returns on investment on the continent. Citing the example of what UBA has been able to achieve in Nigeria, Elumelu said the pan-African bank has operated profitably in Nigeria for the past 70 years and in the last decade, increased its footprint into 18 other countries in Africa as it set up business offices in Paris, New York and London.
He urged them to “believe in Nigeria; come to Nigeria; discover Nigeria; invest in Nigeria; help develop Nigeria and prosper with Nigerians; and most importantly, take an Africapitalist approach to entering and investing in Nigeria because what we are looking for are sustainable partnerships that will deliver sustainable development through the private sector going about its normal commercial activities.” He expressed.
For his part, the President of the French Senate, Mr. Gerard Larcher stressed that the summit was strategic to French business interests, adding that Nigeria remains the first destination of French