The impressive turnout from the global business community and the number of investment deals being sealed at the inaugural edition of the Africa Investment Forum will mark a new era in Africa’s investment history, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this during an interaction with newsmen shortly after the opening session of the inaugural Africa Investment Forum holding in Johannesburg, South Africa.
According to the Vice President, “the good thing about this conference is that it is an implementation conference. We are actually signing deals here, which is a marked difference between this conference and any that has held anywhere else in the world, as a matter of fact.
“It is a platform for signing deals. Already we saw a $62billion deal here. There is a lot of excitement in the air, mainly because we are not just talking here.
“I don’t think you would have the turnout you have here especially in terms of the business community, the DFIs, the Development Banks, the Private Banks and of course, government, this is an implementation conference. This is not just talking.”
He said Nigeria was not left out in investment deals to be reached at the end of the forum, noting that the country “was on the right track, we have invested so much in infrastructure, we have doubled power generation, we are investing in rail and we are spending so much in the history of the country, in capital”.
Speaking on Nigeria’s leap on the global scale of ease of doing business in 2017, the VP said “one of the main things we did and are still doing in Nigeria is deepening reforms that started effectively in 2016 and focused on issues around ease of doing business.”
He said: “What we did basically was to look at reforms in the areas of entry and exit of people, construction permits, international trade platforms, getting credits, providing power and others.
“We picked on those specific areas because we knew they were the weak areas; we focused on reforming them and they also included reforming at the sub-national levels.”
Speaking on government collaboration with the private sector, Prof. Osinbajo said the Buhari administration has remained consistent in its policy on partnering the private sector.
“The partnership with the private sector is extremely important for us. For instance, we established an Industrial Competitiveness and Advisory Council and the Presidential Quarterly Business Forum, where we meet with all the businesses whether large or small.
“The whole idea is to work on policy and together formulate what is our vision in the coming years. Recently we added what is called the Technology and Creativity Advisory Group. This takes into account a lot of the new businesses especially FINTECH companies, young men and women who are involved in entertainment and technology innovations.
“What we have seen is that by focusing on those areas, we are already seeing incremental changes,” the Vice President added.
Continuing, the Vice President said government, through the advisory council and relevant agencies, was working on resolving regulatory issues that arise from the entrance of FINTECH companies into the financial market.
According to him, “What we are seeing is that payment systems, lending, and other aspects of the banking system are happening faster, now.
“We have to change regulation and we must ensure that we give space to the FINTECH companies because what is happening now is that there is a quick convergence between technology and financial products much faster than many of the banks are able to cope with.”
He advised the banks themselves to key into the emerging markets noting that “banks have to reform; they have to invest in some of the FINTECH companies and see the revolution as inevitable.”
On efforts to ensure that the reforms are spread across the different sectors, the Vice President observed that best practices implemented in particular locations were shared among states through the National Economic Council.
“Through the National Economic Council, that has all the 36 state governors, we look at policies and what the best practices are and ensure everyone is on the same page, according to Prof. Osinbajo. He added that efforts are also underway to fast-track court proceedings, in Lagos as a model, while other states are developing their courts along the same lines.
He added that “Kano has strengths in registration of property, we produced and presented this as best practice for everyone to see, we are laying broadband infrastructure, some states have best practice for that and we are trying to spread that across the country.”
On his part, the Chairman of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said creating the enabling environment was key to improving investments in Africa, noting that Africa remains the choice of investors around the world.
He said his company has an ambitious plan to expand its investments portfolio in the continent to achieve a target revenue of over $30 billion by 2030.
In a similar vein, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Mr Tony Elumelu said the forum should go beyond signing deals and agreements to ensuring that the deals work for the benefit of all.
According to him, “Beyond signing deals, the deals need to work. In terms of the private sector participation, policies must be articulated and executed in collaboration with the government. Both public and private sector need to work hand in hand to deliver consistent policy reforms.”
The theme of the forum, which drew several African heads of States and business leaders from across the world, is “all set for Africa’s first investment market place’’.