By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja, Nov. 17, 2022
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the Federal Government will continue to push its business reform agenda for which the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) was established.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Thursday, said the vice president made this known when he received some of the participants of the Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit (NDIS) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The NDIS team was led by Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) and the acting Governor of Ondo State, Lucky Ayedatiwa.
Osinbajo said that the reforms were to create an enabling environment for more investments in the country, including from Nigerians abroad.
He acknowledged the contributions of Nigerians in the Diaspora to the economy, especially with the remittances sent into the country.
“When you look at the role the Diaspora has played in our economy, the remittances are wonderful and that is huge, relatively speaking.
“It is clear there is rising interest to invest at home by Nigerians abroad, what would bring more investments from those in the Diaspora is to create the environment that ensures it is easy for them to invest.
“It is now obvious that there are incredible opportunities that can be taken advantage of by our folks in the Diaspora; they can see and recognise those advantages.”
The vice president spoke on the seriousness with which the administration was taking the Ease of Doing Business Initiative.
He observed that there were challenges involved in working through a bureaucracy that was accustomed to being more of an obstacle than a facilitator.
“We are breaking that; bureaucracy is everywhere and tends to be that way and after a while, regulators (of businesses) don’t recognise anymore that the reason they are there is to facilitate business.
“They are more policemen than facilitators.
“Some regulators are beginning to understand that the economy depends on how well they do their work and how easy it is for people to come through their gates and leave their gates with some success.
“There is a great deal more attention being paid to achieving something and we have had discussions with several of the regulators including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
“We have seen substantial changes in their approach and attitude.’’
Osinbajo recalled that previously, N25 billion was required for banking licences.
He said that CBN, in response to some of the work being done, agreed that for many financial intermediary services, there was a need to create other licenses that were not that expensive.
“We have about six categories of licenses where in some cases, you don’t pay up to a N100 million.
“This is why we were able to get a lot of these FinTechs between 2015 and now, taking these cheaper licenses because a lot of them do financial intermediation on electronic platforms, doing payment processes.
“There are quite a few of them, but five of them are now considered unicorns, companies worth over 1 billion dollars.”
On the possibility of Venture Capital firms in the Diaspora willing to invest in start-ups in Nigeria, Osinbajo welcomed the idea.
According to him, the interesting thing is that there are a lot of Venture Capital firms involved, investors from different parts of the world investing in the FinTechs and other businesses.
“I think that there is a lot to be said about how we make the environment easier for investors to come and not just bringing them in and leaving them to sort themselves out.
“But the handholding efforts by NiDCOM are so crucial so that those who want to invest don’t have too many obstacles, but we know that we are in with them for the long haul,’’ he said.
The vice president commended NiDCOM and the passion of its chairman, adding that she had brought a lot of zeal to the work of the commission.
A member of the delegation, Mr. Chris Brooks, a Jamaican-Nigerian living in America expressed interest in investing in Nigeria.
According to him, there is growing excitement and energy in the Nigerian Diaspora, especially in the U.S.
“We have come to the conclusion that the best hope we have for black people globally is Nigeria.
“So, we intend to make investments in Nigeria and partner deeply with Nigeria.
“I work with a wide variety of Venture Capital Firms led by black people, to advance the cause of black people globally.
“I intend to bring other Venture Capital leaders who control an enormous amount of assets to have conversations with Nigeria about emerging opportunities for investments,” he said.
In her own remarks, Dabiri-Erewa stated that through the intervention of the NDIS in the last five years, investments had been made, particularly in the area of Agriculture, Medicare, ICT and Education.
“For those in the Diaspora, there is passion and interest to invest in Nigeria and the ease of doing business has improved tremendously under the leadership of the vice president,” she said.
Others at the meeting included a delegation from Ondo and Ekiti States, who are also attending the summit, and officials from NIDS and NIDCOM.