By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has called on investors to look beyond the challenges currently facing the world and focus on opportunities they present, as according to him, there are no challenges without opportunities and solutions.
President Buhari made this call Thursday in Madrid when he addressed the Spain-Nigeria Business Meeting organised by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce and the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment during his State Visit to Spain.
The President told the gathering of Spanish and Nigerian corporations and investors to look towards Africa for the opportunities therein.
“It is currently a challenging time for the global economy. But I have always held the strong conviction that there is no crisis without an accompanying opportunity and solution. Increased collaboration with African nations could well be what Europe needs to mitigate against both current and potential future supply-chain challenges and improve both our economic opportunities,” he said.
President Buhari added that the business meeting provided a good opportunity to advance trade relations between the two nations which are today principally dominated by the oil and gas sector.
“I believe this forum is an excellent platform to establish and strengthen business relationships, share valuable experience, and collaborate for the mutual benefit of our countries.
“For quite a number of decades, Spain has been one of Nigeria’s most important trading partners. It is, for example, a major importer of Nigerian crude oil. Nigeria’s exports to Spain stood at $4.8b in 2020 whilst Spain’s exports to Nigeria increased from $97.2 million in 1995 to $517million in 2020. A lot more can be done to increase the volume of trade and today presents a good opportunity to explore how this can be achieved.”
The Nigerian leader reiterated that the current administration has put in place mechanisms to shift the age-long dependence on oil for the sustenance of the country, adding that the focus now is into value chain and exploitation of available abundant solid minerals.
“Since the inception of our Administration in 2015, we have concentrated on moving beyond the historical dependence on crude oil for government revenue and foreign exchange inflows. We have successfully driven its diversification and put the economy on the path of sustainable and inclusive growth through an open, rules-based and market-oriented way of doing business.
“Historically, the focus has been on Nigeria’s oil sector but Nigeria is home to a wide range of other sectors that hold very great potential. We are the largest economy in Africa and our well over 200 million-strong consumer market is home to a range of attractive opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, light manufacturing, infrastructure development and technology.
“Nigeria has a number of other notable mineral resources including coal, gold, bitumen, iron ore and uranium. However, our current focus is on adding value to our natural resources prior to exportation,” said the President
He, therefore, called on investors at the meeting to take advantage of the opportunities that the Nigerian market offers:
“We are open to widening collaboration with Spain and in order to encourage private capital inflow, we have put together fiscal investment incentives which include the following: three to five years tax holidays for enterprises in what we deem to be pioneer industries; tax-free operations and no restrictions on expatriate quotas in our Free Trade Zones; capital allowances for agriculture, manufacturing and engineering amongst others.
“Going into partnerships with trusted local and foreign partners who have well-established networks and understand the dynamics of the economy and country is one of the identified keys to success in Nigeria. Today provides a platform for Spanish businesses to connect with credible Nigerian partners. I trust that all here present will build relationships that will translate into increased trade and investment flows between Nigeria and Spain.”
President Buhari also used the opportunity to thank the Spanish Government for the donation of 4.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Nigeria.
Earlier in his remarks, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, said Nigeria and Spain have enjoyed a very cordial relationship since the 1960s. He added that Nigeria is “committed to increasing its volume of trade with Spain, even as Spain is currently one Nigeria’s strongest EU trading partners.”
“Since signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) Nigeria is also a gateway to the wider African market. Nigeria is a central point for companies wishing to do business in other parts of Africa. We are attracting and retaining sustainable investments by creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. The Federal Government is addressing critical concerns around infrastructure and security, and creating employment for its youthful population,” the Minister added.