BY Musa Ilallah
The 2020 UK-Africa investment summit from January 19-23 has come and gone but its positive memories will remain with us for a long time to come, most probably for the rest of our lives. The accruable benefits to Nigeria at the week-long summit are enormous and such would not have come our way had President Buhari not graced the occasion personally. With a population of about 12 billion, Africa has been referred to as the opportunity for the World. It is also projected that 8 of the 15 fastest growing economies are expected to be in Africa, while over one in four global consumers will be African by 2050.
Describing it as ‘a big win for Nigeria’, Business Day newspaper of Wednesday January 22 in its lead story titled ‘’Here’re 5 wins for Nigeria from UK-Africa summit’’, was delighted that Nigeria, as the largest economy in Africa.
It was widely reported that Nigeria secured five partnerships with the British government aimed at delivering more on investment, jobs and growth in the country. These ‘5 wins’ have now pushed Nigeria up the ladder against South Africa’s ‘3 wins’ of partnership with the British government. In the words of the British government, the partnerships were meant to build stronger, long term relationship with the African countries.
Overall, Nigerian investors have signed a deal of £324 million which is equivalent to N153.4 billion deals at the UK-Africa summit.
Firstly, in agriculture business investment programmes, UK had already provided £750 million in aid. The UK has stressed its resolve to continuously support African countries in transforming their economies particularly in growth sectors that can create quality jobs.
Secondly, the huge opportunities in the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ under way in Africa, the UK government said that it has offered funding to the tune of £45 million for Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa for a new digital access programme. It will furthermore increasing connectivity and digital skills of marginalised communities to grow local digital economies and empower start ups.
Thirdly, as the summit launched a number of initiatives to facilitate infrastructure financing in Africa, Nigeria with one of the biggest gaps in the continent got the attention of the UK. A facility for the funding of the gap to the tune of £ 80 million was offered to Nigeria. Infrastructural gap in Nigeria has become a cog in the wheel of the progress of the African country for years. It is being said times without number that borrowing, locally and otherwise is a necessity in financing infrastructure in Nigeria.
Fourthly, Nigeria along with South Africa have secured a funding of £25 million for the development of the countries’ investment and promotion agencies in order to address the challenges of doing business. According to the summit, there is a growing opportunity for African countries to benefit from the appetite of investors in the UK.
Lastly, the UK said it will support the Energy Commission of Nigeria to update its 2050 calculator to the tune of £60, 000. The calculator is an energy and emissions model that supports sustainable development planning.
In summary one can say that the overall benefits of the UK-Africa summit are much more than ‘5 wins’. Nigeria and UK will be partners in a range of initiatives announced during the summit including the significant UK commitment to support Nigeria develop an enabling environment to turbo-charge economic growth, including helping address land issues for investment; strengthening and improving the finance sector; helping entrepreneurs secure access to finance; preparing the ground for the launch in the UK of naira denominated bonds, tagged ‘jollof bonds’ and developing the tech sector.
Others include substantial initiatives to accelerate the clean energy transformation in Nigeria, through enhanced technical and financial support; and strong commitments to harness private sector support for social development, particularly supporting women and young people in business.
Even the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing had admitted that Nigeria came to the summit in full force under the leadership of President Buhari. According to him the UK-Africa investment summit has launched a new partnership for growth in Nigeria. Impliedly, Ambassador Laing was not surprised by the successes the Nigerian government had recorded at the summit.
For President Buhari personally attending the summit, it was another foreign trip worth the trouble. Certainly, our presence at the UK-Africa summit is a win-win situation for the nation and its nationals.
Despite all the noises from the opposition and their likes, President Buhari has remained undaunted and committed to making Nigeria than he met it. What he strongly needs to realise his dreams for a better Nigeria is our unflinching support regardless of our partisan, religious, tribal or regional affiliations.
Ilallah wrote in from Emeka Anyaoku Dtreet, Abuja