Monday, 19 November 2012 02:00

Aganga Urges Nigeria, SA to Strengthen Economic Growth in Africa

JOHANNESBURG - Mr Olusegun Aganga, Nigeria’s Minister of Trade and Investment, has urged Nigeria and South Africa to take advantage of the window of opportunities available in their economies to strengthen economic growth in the continent. Aganga stated this at a dinner dialogue organised by the Nigeria Consulate in South Africa on 15 November 2012.

He emphasised that the two countries must not allow the opportunities to pass without being exploited for the benefit of their citizens and for the people in the continent. "Nigeria and South Africa have the fastest economic growth in the continent, if Africa must take advantage of the current global economic meltdown to boost growth in the continent, then the two countries need to work together. The two countries have to complement each other in areas of comparative advantage. There are no countries that can develop their economies without industrialisation, South Africa is the leader in Africa in that area.

"But Nigeria has the advantage in the area of market size and raw materials over many countries. Nigeria has the largest population in Africa, an investment in Nigeria is a gateway into the ECOWAs with about 300 million population, Nigeria is a market nobody can ignore, Aganga said.

He said that Nigeria is no longer interested in investors coming into the country to export raw material out of the country. "What we want are investors setting up industry and manufacturing plants in the country, to help provide employment for our youths and ever growing population.

"Nigeria is discussing with South Africa on ways to collaborate in setting up automobile plants in Nigeria. There are opportunities in mining, not for exportation alone, but for mining of the mineral for processing and production," Aganga said.

He said that there were untapped potentials in the agricultural sector, saying, " Nigeria is blessed with 84 million of acre of land, where everything and anything can grow. But the agriculture sector of our economy is not fully tapped.”

"We want investors in the agriculture sector not only in the area of planting and harvesting of agriculture product, but also in area of food processing and storage, this is an area where South Africa can come in, because they are well ahead of other Africa countries in food processing and storage.

"There are also business opportunities in oil and gas, Nigeria is the largest producer of oil and gas in the continent and investment opportunities in that sector is open," Aganga said.

He said Nigeria can also learn from South Africa in service and infrastructure development.

The Nigerian government has put in place economy policies to encourage foreign investment. "The Nigeria government has provided incentives to foreign investors to come and invest in the country.

"Part of the new policy is 48 hours company registration, 100 per cent foreign ownership, generous corporate tax holiday and repatriation of profit and dividend through legal means. Also stability of exchange rate for a long time is part of government economic policies to encourage foreign investment," Aganga said.

Amb. Olugbenga Ashiru, Nigerian Foreign Affairs minister represented by Amb. Sonni Yusuf, Nigerian High Commissioner in South Africa, said South African business community should take advantage of liberalisation of visa requirements to visit Nigeria. "There have been a deliberate policy to liberalise visa requirements into Nigeria. in this regard, a policy of three years multiple entry visas have been approved, while in extreme cases, visa can could be issued at points of entry to genuine business people.

"Also all our foreign mission are mandated to streamline issuance of visas within 48 hours, to businessmen and women," Ashiru said.

He, however, called on the South Africa government to reciprocate the Nigeria government visa policy to encourage friendly business relationship between the two countries. Nigerian Consul-General, Mr Okey Emuchay said the dialogue was a follow up to the agreement reached between Nigeria and South Africa during the Bi-National Commission held in Cape Town in May.

"Nigeria is a huge country with lot of opportunities, I call on South Africa investors to tap into the incentives given by the Nigerian government to foreign investors and invest in the Nigerian economy.

"There is need for regular dialogue between the two countries to engage each other and strengthen the much needed trust and collaboration towards building stronger economic relationship, " Emuchay said.

Hon CEO of the Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce, Ms Dianna Games, in her remarks, said Nigeria and South Africa had lot to gain from each other. However, she emphasised the need for trust and a cordial economic and political relationship between the two countries for them to realise this potential. – News Agency of Nigeria



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