The creation of the Nigerian Ministry of Trade and Investment (MTI) from the former Ministry of Commerce and Industry by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, was one of the landmark decisions aimed at repositioning the Nigerian economy for job creation and wealth generation.
The ministry’s activities, in line with its expanded mandate, are clustered around four main areas, namely: Investment, Industry, Trade and Enterprise, while its goals are mainly creating jobs, generating wealth and enhancing economic growth, through well laid out strategies involving the 16 Parastatals under its supervision.
With aggressive marketing and the pursuit of growth-enabling policies, investors’ interest in Nigeria has been growing more than ever. The result is that today, Nigeria is the preferred destination of investment in Africa, according to the latest report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, ranking 1st in the top 5 host economies for FDI in Africa (at $8.91 billion in 2011, compared to $6.09 billion in 2010. We have a large market, a population of 167 million people, strong workforce, as well as comparative advantage in major industries such as Oil and Gas, Petrochemicals, Mining and mining-related industries; Agriculture and agric businesses/ industries. Investment incentives are also highly competitive.
However, the Federal Government is further enhancing investors’ confidence in the Nigerian economy with key reforms. For instance, we have commenced an Investment Climate Reform Programme, working with the World Bank and DFID. We have strengthened the One-Stop Investment Centre in the NIPC to pave the way for efficient coordination of investment facilitation between all relevant government agencies and achieve 48-hour response target for all enquiries. We are already seeing the positive impact. The Investor Care Committee; the Doing Business and Competitiveness Committee, inaugurated earlier on in the year to proactively address the day-to-day concerns of investors and businesses are now very active and the establishment of a Competitiveness Council to improve Nigeria’s competitiveness has already been approved by Mr. President. Structures have also been put in place to ensure a 24-hour timeline for registering new businesses. This is in addition to the restructuring and repositioning of our Free Trade Zones in line with the determination to position Nigeria as a hub for the domestic, regional and global markets.
So far, the improvement in Nigeria’s investment climate has helped to attract over N6.8 trillion Local and Foreign Direct Investment commitment to date and there are clear follow up plans to sustain the momentum and also see to the execution of many of the projects during the lifetime of this administration.
The Ministry of Trade and Investment, has also kicked off a National Industrial Revolution Plan to reposition Nigeria’s industries as the bedrock of sustainable economic growth and development. This is based on areas where Nigeria has comparative and competitive advantage. Focus is on agribusiness (food processing, palm oil, leather and leather products, textile and garment as well as sugar sub-sectors); mining-related industries (deepening success in cement, iron and steel, aluminium and automobile subsectors etc); Oil and Gas (petrochemicals, plastic and chemical industries). Others include construction and housing sectors, among others. The plan links industries to innovation and skills development.
Currently, we are rigorously implementing the Backward Integration Policy in the cement industry. This has resulted in a total combined installed capacity of over 28 million metric tonnes per annum today (as against local demand of 20 million metric tonnes) and has produced one of the largest cement plants in the world today. (Before the introduction of BIP, Nigeria had a production capacity of two million tonnes as against a consumption volume of about 14 million metric tonnes). The cement success story is being replicated in the automobile, textile and garment, palm oil as well as sugar sub-sectors.
In line with the determination to enhance economic growth, the Federal Executive Council has just approved a 10-year National Sugar Master Plan (NSMP) aimed at ensuring Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in sugar production. This will reduce Nigeria’s import dependency on sugar and save the nation about $350 million yearly in terms of import costs. (Today, Nigeria produces only 2% of the sugar it consumes).
On trade, our multi-focus strategy targets the domestic, regional and international markets. In this regard, we have completed the review of the trade regime and produced a draft of the Nigeria’s Trade Policy for the first time in 10 years. This policy will serve as the foundation for growth-oriented and win-win trade relations with other countries. We have also commenced the transformation of the Abuja Securities and Commodity Exchange into a first class commodity exchange.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Trade and Investment has made the development of the SME sub-sector a major priority because SMEs are major drivers of inclusive economic growth and development. We have therefore created special windows of financing and growing these enterprises in collaboration with the SME desks of commercial banks and with special schemes being put in place by the Bank of Industry.
At this juncture, it is important to note that the Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, is aimed at regenerating the Nigerian economy in good time. The Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, which will, in collaboration with other ministries, execute this agenda, remains focused on the delivery of its mandate. Investors in Nigeria are therefore assured of a defined policy environment, high level fiscal discipline, transparency and accountability.
Finally, Nigeria’s low debt to GDP ratio, ongoing investment/business climate reform programs and positive economic outlook, in the face of the instability in global market, pave the way for viable business.
OLUSEGUN. O. AGANGA, CON.
Honourable Minister of Trade and Investment