By Thomas Ejiemere
The Government of Nigeria and private sector investors will soon receive important support that will help boost key industries such as the banking sector as well as providing access to competitively priced credit and loan facilities for institutions in Nigeria. Relief is expected once Nigeria finalises its membership into ATI, which is nearing completion.
ATI is Africa’s only multilateral credit and investment insurer, similar to the World Bank’s MIGA but with a focus purely on Africa. In order for a country to access ATI’s full slate of investment solutions, it must be a full member and shareholder.
ATI held a Forum on De-risking Nigeria’s Investments and Trade today in Abuja to inform the private and public sectors about the benefits that await Nigerian companies, the government and its institutions once membership in ATI is finalised.
Specifically, ATI will help improve Nigeria’s economic outlook in the following ways:
- For the overall economy, ATI’s presence will help to reassure investors, particularly in the current election cycle – an environment that often leads to investors delaying their planned projects in any African country undergoing elections.
This risk may already be reflected in Nigeria’s foreign direct investment flows which totalled US$1.2 billion in the first half of the year down from US$1.7 billion a year earlier. ATI provides investors with political risk and investment insurance to protect their investments against any unilateral government-related action (including non-payment) that might negatively impact their investments or projects.
- ATI will also help the government in its plans to diversify the economy through its support to banks and across a broad spectrum of economic sectors. ATI provides credit insurance solutions which can act as a form of collateral, therefore freeing up banks’ capital allowing them to lend at greater volumes. With local banks now focusing on decreasing their non- performing loan rates, some are hesitant to lend to the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, where development of both is a major government objective.
From a bank’s perspective these are risky sectors with high credit risk. With ATI’s credit insurance solutions, this risk can be mitigated, thus opening up more loans to these priority sectors.
Speaking at a press briefing following the forum in Abuja, ATI’s Chief Executive Officer, George Otieno commented “There are numerous benefits to Nigeria becoming a member of ATI. First, investors and international lenders will look favourably on this action and second the time couldn’t be better for our solutions. We can support the government to diversify the economy, boost banks liquidity, and even help the government to borrow internationally at more competitive rates.
This year ATI’s products will stand behind around 5% of all new FDI into Africa so joining ATI literally boosts growth. Lastly, ATI is now paying dividends to shareholder making membership a near budget neutral decision for governments.”
African countries that are members of ATI are able to capitalize on ATI’s unique financial solutions. For example, Nigeria’s neighbour and ATI’s first West African shareholder, The Republic of Benin, recently utilized ATI’s investment insurance to attract EUR 610 million for infrastructure and debt refinancing supported by ATI’s network of global lenders and insurance partners.
ATI currently has 14 member countries including some of Africa’s strongest economic performers including Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda, and nine institutional members including the African Development Bank. ATI continues in its push to increase West African membership with Ghana also expected to finalise its membership in ATI in early 2019.