In a significant move aimed at bolstering economic reforms under the Tinubu administration, the United States government, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is set to host a roadshow from October 9 to 13, showcasing investment opportunities in Nigeria to American investors. The initiative, designed to expose US investors to the potential of the Nigerian market, has sparked both hope and scepticism among economic experts.
In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Monday, Professor Adi Bongo, a professor of economics at Lagos Business School, emphasised the importance of attracting foreign investment, saying, “I think it’s heartwarming news that we are going to be hosting such a roadshow to showcase our investment opportunities to American investors.” However, he raised concerns about the ambiguous signals surrounding the endeavour.
Addressing the challenges, Professor Bongo highlighted the need for a robust framework to attract private sector investments, which he deemed lacking due to the previous administration’s dismantling of essential structures. He emphasised the urgency for the current administration to rebuild these frameworks, stating, “I think the first priority and the first point of call for the current administration would be to rebuild the framework that will attract such kinds of investments.”
He expressed doubt regarding the success of retaining such investments, citing the high risks prevalent in Nigeria’s business ecosystem, including challenging macroeconomic conditions, “Those who are operating here know that businesses are closing up because of the very challenging macroeconomic environment which even now none of those things have been effectively addressed.”
“Investment is not propaganda, neither is it politics,” he stated, underscoring the importance of addressing existing conditions before expecting substantial foreign investments. He pointed out that Nigeria’s reputation, especially concerning contracts and adherence to the rule of law, could deter potential investors. “The fact remains that we are not an attractive investment destination as it is today.”
Moreover, Professor Bongo emphasised the importance of addressing various issues, including infrastructure development and human capital. He voiced concern over the emigration of skilled professionals, stating that retaining the best talents within the country was crucial for attracting businesses.
“I want to look at the real issues,” he asserted, referring to the necessity of ensuring a conducive environment for foreign investments, including legal frameworks that guarantee the safety of investments and easy exit strategies for investors, “These are private investors that are taking their capital to new pipes. They want assurance; they want confidence in the economy. Right now, the government of the day exudes none of those.”
Despite the scepticism voiced by Professor Bongo, the roadshow remains a significant initiative for the Tinubu administration, aiming to lay the groundwork for potential partnerships between American investors and Nigerian businesses. However, it is evident that addressing the underlying concerns raised by experts like Professor Bongo will be crucial in ensuring the success of these investments and their long-term impact on the Nigerian economy.