The Ambassador and Head, European Union Delegation to Nigeria and West Africa, Ketil Karlsen, has advised policymakers to consider wooing more foreign investors into the country with friendly investment incentives.
Karlsen said stable and predictable political system, transparent policies, robust judicial system, strong institutions and a system that is averse to corruption were some of the factors that investors considered topmost in every prospective investment destination.
The ambassador, who maintained that the EU and investors were willing to partner Nigeria in the areas of Information and Communications Technology and agriculture to create jobs for the country’s teeming youths, spoke recently at the 6th EU-Nigeria Business Forum in Lagos.
The theme of the forum was, “Youth as engine of broad-based economic transformation” and was attended by delegates from Europe, members of the business community and other stakeholders.
Karlsen said, “There is no magic recipe, but a lot needs to be done anywhere in the world to attract foreign investment. You need to have predictability of course, fighting corruption is a priority of the government that will be in the company of the EU.
“It is vital to ensure transparency, and have legal certainty that the system will address and not encourage in impunity. Tackling corruption issues reassures international investors that they can safely invest their money in a country like Nigeria, and that it is a win-win situation by the end of the day.”
The ambassador added, “This time around we are focusing on youths, women, and how the digital industry-ICT- and agriculture can provide thousands of jobs supported by European investors. This is definitely one of our main priorities in the country.”
According to Karlsen, the EU is poised to continue to develop an already flourishing partnership between it and Nigeria companies.
The ambassador stated that trade between Nigeria and the EU was significant, adding that 39 per cent of all exports from Nigeria went to Europe in 2016 and was estimated at 20 billion euros.
“But we feel there is an unused potential that can still be used better. And of course, the existing Economic Partnership Agreement is still on the table. We feel this is really a possibility to create conducive environment to create transparency, to create long-term strategy that would help investors to come to Nigeria and invest in Nigeria from the medium to long term as a hub for West Africa to access the European market also.”
The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, who commended the EU for its unflinching commitment towards developing a digital economy in Nigeria, said the Federal Government had been conscious of the role the ICT sector could play in national development.
He said, “Since the return of democratic governance that was birthed in May 1999, the attention of the world returned to Nigeria as the country with the highest potential for investment on the continent. So far, over $60bn has been invested in the ICT sector since year 2001 when digital mobile services were launched.