WHAT does the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trades and Investments do? How can Nigerians assess the importance of its work to tackling the various challenges the country faces as it grapples with industrialisation?
Global rankings of Nigeria as an investment destination of choice have risen following improvements the Ministry has made in marketing the country. KPMG, a leading consultancy said Nigeria gained from disappointing returns recorded by the BRICS, with the exception of China.
UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2012, “Towards a New Generation of Investment Policies”, rated Nigeria as Africa’s biggest destination for Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, in 2011, with FDI inflows of $8.92bn, ahead of South Africa with $5.81bn.
Changes at the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, NIPC, have resulted in a 48-hour response target for all enquiries while registering new businesses is possible in Abuja and Lagos in less than 24 hours.
These, and the Central Bank of Nigeria’s 2012 that indicate, “Nigeria’s trade balance improved significantly from US$8.62 billion in Q2, 2012 and $1.60 billion in Q3, 2011, respectively, to US$12.37 billion in Q3, 2012. Aggregate exports rose by 8.2 per cent, from US$22.53 billion in Q3, 2011 to US$24.37 billion in Q3, 2012 while aggregate imports (CIF) declined by 42.7 per cent to US$11.99 billion in the review period,” are some of the credits the Ministry claims.
Increase in exports, a 43 per cent drop in imports in 2012 (significantly in vegetable oil, textiles and cement), resulting in savings of more than N4.2 trillion, the equivalent of the 2013 federal budget, are signs that manufacturing is improving and the interventions in textile manufacturing are yielding results. In 2012, the non-oil sector’s 30 per cent contribution to revenue was significant.
Minister of Industry, Trades and Investments Mr. Segun Aganga discusses these developments with enthusiasm. Are they results of experience he brought to the job from exposure to international trade and investments or is Nigeria benefitting from the misfortune of other investment destinations?
Whatever it is, Nigeria’s industrialisation map is being drawn, and the Bank of Industry is developing key partnerships with micro, small and medium enterprises, efforts that can become more profitable if governments and industrialists work together to dismantle the formidable obstacles infrastructure presents.
The Ministry cannot realise its industrialisation, trades and investment targets – which would create more jobs and generally improve the welfare of Nigerians – in isolation. As it promotes Nigeria as an investment destination, all the other factors that would make Nigeria fit the bill should be tackled with more seriousness.
Perhaps, we should be wondering what other government agencies are doing in ensuring that these gains are not lost to challenges of sustaining them.