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COVID-19: Adebayo seeks foreign direct investment for speedy economic recovery

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, has solicited foreign direct investment in the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in the country.

The economic zones, according to the minister, are located at Lekki, Enyimba, Funtua, Ibom, Calabar, Bauchi, Kwara, Kano, Benue, Gombe and Ekiti.

In his address at the Nigerian in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) virtual lecture with the theme: “Post-COVID-19 Economic Resurgence: Targeting Diaspora Investment”, he urged Nigerians to take advantage of the investment opportunities in the special economic zones to help put the nation’s economy in good shape.

In a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Ifedayo Sayo, the minister listed other investment opportunities in the country to include cotton, textiles and garment industry, and backward integration programme to expand local production of sugar, cassava and oil palm processing.

The minister also disclosed that there are opportunities for investment in the automotive industry as the country is seeking to catalyse the local assembly of at least 400,000 vehicles per annum.

On Agro-processing, he said, “Opportunities also exist in the area of agro-processing. This is a major lever for promoting wealth creation for a majority of our workforce who are farmers. This ministry has accelerated plans to establish at least one agro-processing zone in each senatorial district in Nigeria.”

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He noted that the impact of the novel COVID-19 pandemic has been overwhelming, as evident in the slowdown of economic activities across the world, stressing that for Nigerian, the pandemic came on the heels of the collapse of international oil prices which, along with the necessary lock-down, further hampered the economic situation of the country.

Speaking further on the effect of the pandemic, he said, “This led to a significant disruption of supply chain, production and trade activities as factories and plants were closed while commercial activities and movement of goods and services within the country were severely constrained; culminating in job losses and downsizing by various businesses; which may affect their Investment and encourage capital flight if not addressed critically.

“Also, this impact has been significantly felt across various sectors such as the Agribusiness, healthcare, manufacturing, Entertainment, tourism and hospitality, transportation and retail sectors amongst others. Of course, individuals, households, Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) and large corporations have not been spared from the effect of the crisis.”

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He explained that the Federal Government through the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) launched the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) in efforts to actualize a holistic recovery of the economy in March 2020 after the dampening effects of COVID-19.

Essentially, the Minister said the ESP was aimed at spurring economic growth and minimise the resulting cases of business failures, job losses and increased poverty.

According to him, “This government recognizes Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) especially inflows from Diaspora Nigerians as a key driver in achieving this recovery growth plan. This is because according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria hit $17.57 billion in direct remittance inflows from overseas in 2019, hence we are looking to leverage this summit to encourage more capital inflow as we affirm our commitment to improving the ease of doing business.

“The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) is implementing a strategic work plan aimed at improving the business environment and attaining a Doing Business Ranking of Top 90 by 2021, Top 80 by 2022 and Top 70 by 2023.

“Also, the World Bank, the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES) and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum jointly organized a sub-national conference on “Catalyzing Private Sector Investments in State” across the South-East, North-Central and south-west geopolitical zones.

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“We have also commenced the implementation of the Fifth National Action Plan (NAP 5.0). NAP 5.0 is a 60-day window for the implementation of business climate reforms by Kano and Lagos States, as well as ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). This includes the recently enacted Companies Allied Matters Act (CAMA).

“The deepening of the operationalization of Small Claims Court in Kano and Lagos State will enhance rapid economic recovery and growth of business activities in the country because minor legal disputes which take a longer bureaucratic process to settle will be solved in little or no time.

“Medium, Small and Micro Enterprise (MSME) growth is critical to this economic recovery which we seek to achieve. Hence, we have facilitated access to credit for MSMEs at a single-digit rate through the N250 billion in the NESP to fund – N50 billion MSME derisking scheme, N100 billion capitalisation fund for BOI and N100 billion real sector intervention fund. We have also established a relief fund for MSMEs through the N75billion MSME Survival fund.”

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