The United States Deputy Treasury Secretary, Wally Adeyemo, has said that his purpose in Nigeria is not to counter any influence that China may have, but because the future of Nigeria’s economy is important to the USA.
In an exclusive interview with ARISE NEWS, Adeyemo said that the USA is highly interested in Africa, Nigeria especially, as they know that Africa represents the future, both economically and strategically, for the US and for the rest of the world.
Adeyemo addressed the flurry of visits to several African countries that the USA’s leaders have recently made. He denied that these were efforts to counter China and Russia’s influence as he said that the USA has deep bonds with Africa which could be seen in the people-to-people relationships. He said, “Our government is here, not because we’re looking to counter another government but because we know that ultimately the economic future of Africa is critically important to us and especially Nigeria as Africa’s largest country.”
Speaking on how Nigeria can garner more investment to enhance nation building and development, Adeyemo said, “I think the most important thing that Nigeria can do is invest in its oil and gas industry, but its energy sector more broadly. Nigeria today is underproducing the amount of oil that it can based on its quota, and part of that is driven by underinvestment in that industry. And the way that you get foreign direct investment in Nigeria’s industry is making sure you have a macro economic framework that supports that.
“In addition to oil and gas, clean energy is playing a larger role in Nigeria everyday including solar panels. Today, one of the major investments that America has made with our Development Finance Corporation has been in trying to get more solar into Nigeria because it’s an energy source that, in some ways, allows people to use generators less and rely on the sun more.
“But overall, the key to making sure that Nigeria is in a position to take advantage of its natural resources- both the sun and the resources found in the ground, is making sure that you get more foreign direct investment.” He said that the US was impressed by the moves that the current administration has made, but more reforms need to be made to attract more foreign direct investment into Nigeria’s energy sector. He also said that it is important to have an energy sector that is stable and allows for global growth to continue.
Adeyemo also said that what Nigeria needs to do to attract foreign franchises and chains to invest in the country is to invest in the people. He said, “What I found being in Nigeria is that you have talented people who are filled with potential. The key question is, how do you create opportunities for them? I think some of the early steps the government has taken is doing that from trying to unify the exchange rate to making difficult choices to end the fuel subsidies. Now the question is how is the government going to invest the resources it now has because the fuel subsidies have ended?
“In building of infrastructure, both digital and fiscal infrastructure, but also in various sectors like education and power to make sure that companies around the world, including the Walmarts and other companies in the United States know that they will have an ease of doing business here. A big part of this is transparency and making sure that while the president is there, he lays out a very clear agenda for what his government is going to do to make the economic reforms that Nigerians have known need to be made for a long time.”
Adeyemo delivered an address at the Lagos Business School (LBS on Monday), which was titled “U.S.- Nigeria Economic Relations: People, Entrepreneurship and Investment.” In his address, he identified four reform priorities for Nigeria.
The first reform Adeyemo noted was that Nigeria needs a stable naira. He said, “Unifying Nigeria’s foreign exchange rates will create the kind of macroeconomic stability that is essential to attracting foreign investment.” Secondly, he said that the Nigerian government needs to “articulate and implement a fiscal strategy that will provide the resources to make critical investments.”
Thirdly, the Deputy Treasury Secretary said that another factor for growth is the rooting out of corruption and the perception of corruption in the business environment. Lastly, he said that the integrity of Nigeria’s financial system must be protected.”
Adeyemo, in his presentation, then commended President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration for taking the tough but necessary decisions to provide resources for investment and infrastructure in the country.