Business - Investment Business - News - November 30, 2021

AfCFTA: Nigeria’s the ideal gateway into Africa’s economy, says NIPC boss

Nigeria, one of the most improved investment environment, says World Bank Doing Business Report, 2020

By Bassey Udo

With the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) gathering momentum, the acting Executive Secretary/CEO of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Emeka Offor, has identified Nigeria as the ideal gateway economy for investors desirous of leveraging the opportunities it offers to Africa’s economic growth.

Offor spoke on “Nigeria Investment Environment: NIPC’s Facilitation Role” at the one-day Greek-Nigeria Chamber of Commerce and Technology Investment Summit on Tuesday in Athens, Greece.

Apart from four international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano providing vital links from Nigeria to the rest of Africa, Offor said Nigeria is also blessed with major seaports in Lagos, Calabar, and Bonny Island, with over 3,798 kilometers of railway tracks and 168,000 kilometers of roads network.

Besides, he said the country is strategically located, with land borders with some countries in the West African sub-region, including Benin Republic in the west, Cameroun in the east, Chad in the north east and Niger Republic in the north.

He said even before the take off of the AfCFTA, there were several Nigerian companies, particularly in the services sector, like banking, telecommunications, fintech, e-commerce and manufacturing, that have already developed the capacity to serve the rest of Africa.

In terms of comparative advantage to other economies in Africa, the NIPC boss said Nigeria is blessed with very competitive economic sectors, with the various geo-political zones having various endowments capable of sustaining their independent economic survival and growth.

While the North West region is rich in agriculture, agro-processing, mineral mining, textile, garment and footwear, educational services, he said the North East region has a viable agriculture, animal husbandry, and small hydro-power sectors, and the North Central region agriculture, animal husbandry, mineral mining, small hydro-power, thermal power plant, iron & steel, ceramics, tourism.

For the South East, Offor said the region thrives in mineral mining, agriculture, automobile, garment and footwear, food and beverages, tourism, while South West region is noted for financial services, food and beverages, garment and footwear, ceramics, educational services, ICT, tourism, thermal power plant, maritime, inland waterways, and South South region endowed with oil & gas, petrochemicals, tourism, fishing, thermal power plant, maritime, inland waterways.

With Nigeria acknowledged by the World Bank as one of the most improved, in terms of ease of doing business ranking, Offor said the country moved 15 steps and 4.01 points to 131/190 in 2020, from the 146/190 ranking in 2019, despite the impact of the pandemic.

“Nigeria is one of the most committed to business environment improvements,” he told his audience made up of international investors from around the world

He spoke of the reforms introduced by the government through the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in August 7, 2020 changed the country’s investment climate for better.

Some of the highlights of the CAMA, he said, included the introduction of the single shareholder provision for private companies, with Section 18(2) of the Act making it possible to establish a private company with only one shareholder.

Section 27(2), he said replaces the requirement for “authorized share capital” in companies with “minimum issued share capital”, while Section 402 exempts small companies or single shareholder companies from appointing auditors to audit the financial statements of the company.

Also, Section 176(1) introduces electronic instruments of transfer, while Section 861 allows electronically filed documents to be accepted in evidence, and Section 240(2) allows virtual meetings in private companies only, in addition to Sections 746-820, which acknowledge Limited Liability Partnerships as a business structure.

Other reforms in the CAMA, he noted, include Section 223(12), which reduces the fees payable for filing from 65% from the old law to 0.35% of the value of the charge; Section 265(6) restricts the Chairman of a public company from acting as its Chief Executive Officer, while Section 330(1) made the appointment of a company Sectary optional for private companies.

Sections 119 and 120 provides that persons holding significant control in any company should disclose such control within seven days of acquisition, while the framework for rescuing a company in distress and to keep its alive are introduced in Sections 434-442; 443-549 and 718 -721.

He said further support for investment in Nigeria were provided through various incentives in the Finance Acts 2019 and 2020.

The Finance Act 2019, he said, exempts small businesses from company income tax and charging of value added tax (VAT); grants tax relief for medium-sized companies with annual turnover of between N25million and N100million; protects locally produced goods and facilitates importation of raw materials not available locally, in addition to over 600 basic food items and locally manufactured goods exempted from VAT.

The Finance Act 2020, on the other hand, he said exempts those earning a minimum wage from personal income tax; exempts small companies with N25 million turnover from tertiary education tax; exempts flight tickets from VAT and grants companies in primary agriculture pioneer status for an initial four years and additional two years.

On efforts by the NIPC to facilitate investment, Offor said the investment promotion agency has created the Single Window Investors’ Portal, whose service offerings are all at the One Stop Investment Centre are automated.

He listed the benefits of the OSIC to include online application for business registration, document submission, fee payment, workflow-based review and tracking.

With OSIC, he said agencies would be integrated as they adopt electronic-government and electronic pioneer status incentives to automate applications for incentives administered by NIPC; allow online application, document submission, fee payment, workflow-based processing, automated stakeholder notification and report generation.

The Centre will also allow applicants to track processing status online, while ensuring stakeholder relationship management, in terms of end-to-end management of all engagements with investors; tracking of all investor requests, applications, enquiries, complaints and responses to deepen NIPC’s institutional memory, and seamless monitoring and reporting of interaction with investors.

On investment profiling, he said the Centre would ease the generation of a broad range of investment summaries, based on predefined templates, from online profiles submitted by different stakeholders; help automate matchmaking of investors to States and opportunities, and improve visibility of investable opportunities.

 

 

 

 

 

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