Up till 2014, most reputable international investment ranking organisations reported Nigeria as the number one investment destination in Africa.
In particular, a United States-based economic advisory firm, Frontiers Strategy Group, affirmed that Nigeria had continued to attract growing interest of international organisations and multinationals in spite of Boko Haram insurgency marked with suicide bombings.
Since then, the situation has dramatically changed with our country now behind our competitors. Nigeria came third in the ABSA Africa Financial Markets Index 2021, AAFMI, out of the 23 countries surveyed. The ranking focused on openness and attractiveness to foreign investment. It is surprising that the Muhammadu Buhari regime’s touted Ease of Doing Business reforms have not fundamentally impressed investors.
Worse still, the continent’s largest economy is ranked 14 in another survey conducted by the Rand Merchant Bank, RMB, titled: “Where To Invest In Africa”. Egypt topped the list, with Morocco, South Africa, Rwanda, Botswana, Ghana, Mauritius, Cote D’Ivoire, Kenya and Tanzania ahead of Nigeria.
In spite of this, the Federal Government continues to claim that Nigeria is the top investment haven in Africa.
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President Buhari, at the recent Dubai Expo 2021 in the United Arab Emirates organised by the Nigerian-Arabian Gulf Chamber of Commerce, claimed that Nigeria is on its way to becoming a “leading industrial and trading nation” due to his government’s policies.
The noticeable uptick in efforts to market our economy to the world is commendable. Every country showcases its advantage to investors. However, we must shun the undue propaganda technique, otherwise our marketing efforts will backfire.
The people we are talking to have their agents here in Nigeria. They also have access to news and a myriad of intelligence about our country. Propaganda cannot fool any sensible investor. From the analysis of the ABSA and RMB surveys, Nigeria is falling down the ladder due to the poor business and trade “environment”, which are linked to governance.
During the recent Mid-Term Ministerial Performance Review, the President of the African Development Bank, AfDB, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, among other things, demonstrated why Nigeria is a poor trading country.
According to him: “The cost of exporting 100 tons of cargo in Nigeria is $35,000, compared to $4,000 in Ghana. Today, the leading ports for West Africa are in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, and Benin Republic. All these countries have modernised their port management systems, leaving Nigeria far behind”.
Nigeria became the top investment destination pre-2015 because the economy was in competent hands. Unless we return to that template, we market ourselves in vain. A good product sells itself.