Investing In A Developing Economy – A Possible Solution To Global Financial Crisis

If there were security problems in Nigeria, no business person would go to the country to explore opportunities; companies like Celtel and Etisalat would not have ventured into a security-risk country to do business. Those who spread a rumor about security and corruption problems in Nigeria are saying to stop others from making money. Figures don’t lie. They are the biggest testimonies of how conducive Nigeria’s environment for business and opportunities is. If you want to do business in Africa and record good returns on your investment, I welcome you to Nigeria. The political environment in Africa, particularly in Nigeria, is tremendous.

Investing In A Developing Economy - A Possible Solution To Global Financial Crisis 1

Dr. Hamadoun Toure,
Secretary-General,
International Telecommunications Union,
Cited in the Punch Newspaper, May 13, 2008)

What is happening with the Nigerian financial system is far from being affected by the global credit crisis. Currently, the banks are under-capitalized worldwide, but Nigerian banks are over-capitalized. And I do not think this is a problem at all. I believe Nigerian banks are under pressure from other African economies affected by the credit challenges.

– Gordon Smith,
Head of Research, Africa and the Middle East, International Consilium,
(Reported in the Punch Newspaper, June 30, 2008).

The preceding statements aptly connote two understandings of the state of the Nigerian economy. These understandings show that the economy is one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa and the world. Although Nigeria has had a hash economic history, it has undergone. It is undergoing economic reforms to make Nigeria Africa’s financial hub and one of the twenty largest economies in the world by 2020. , The country has experienced political instability, corruption, and poor macroeconomic management in the past; this was responsible for the unpleasant and harsh economic situation.

The government’s relentless efforts to reposition the economy have translated into remarkable economic growth and development. Several mechanisms have been put in place to sustain this growth and development, capable of balancing stakeholders’ interests. Perhaps this view must have influenced Gordon Smith’s submission. He described Nigeria as the most dynamic market in Africa, which is under severe pressure from some African countries to serve as a cushion against global turbulence. He also noted that some countries like Ghana, Malawi, and Mauritius, among others, were depending on her at the moment due to international risk exposure and that the country’s economy, led by the consolidated banks, was far from being affected by the worldwide credit crisis currently rocking the world’s financial giants. He stressed further that foreign investors, who will be patient enough to weigh the Nigerian financial system on the credit risk perspective relative to global events, will find the nation’s financial sector more interesting to invest and raise capital.

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Faced with numerous challenges, the Nigerian government is determined to strengthen, diversify, and make the economy attractive and investment-friendly to local and foreign investors. The government has adopted total liberalization and globalization as the economic policy, instituted privatization and commercialization programs of public enterprises, provided full security for business and people, extended invitations to domestic and foreign investors, abolished laws inhibiting competition, embraced and fine-tuned policies to ensure the quick realization of growth and development of all sectors of the economy. The effort is already paying off as Nigeria is now the focus for foreign investment, thereby increasing exponentially Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Scores of economic missions and delegations from developed and developing countries have visited Nigeria, thus accelerating its growth at a speedy rate.

It becomes pertinent to direct the course of this discussion to embrace the second understanding of the above statements by Hamadoun Toure and Gordon Smith. However, it becomes more relevant to enumerate the inherent investment opportunities in the Nigerian economy before discussing security, as raised by Toure.

No doubt, Nigeria is an investment haven with countless and lucrative investment opportunities, including oil and gas, solid mineral, agriculture, tourism, telecommunication, power and steel, transport, trade processing zone, financial sector, real estate/property, manufacturing, sport, and entertainment, and fashion industry. Investors have a wide range of opportunities to choose from. It is important to note that the investment growth rate is fantastic and exponential in any of these sectors. Investors are advantaged in presenting their products and services to already-made markets, taking advantage of over 140 million.

In telecommunication, statistics reveal that mobile phone users in Africa were about 280 million, overtaking the United States and Canada with 277 million users in the opening quarter of 2008. With 70 million connections in 2007, the Continent became the fastest-growing Region globally, representing a growth of 38 percent, ahead of the Middle East (33 percent) and the Asia-Pacific (29 percent). It was also revealed that the fastest-growing markets are located in northern and western Africa, representing 63 percent of the total connections in the Region altogether. The record showed that Nigeria, Zambia, Tanzania, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Algeria, Tunisia, Ghana, and South Africa are highly competitive markets in the Region. The record further contends that two-thirds of Africa’s telephony is in its early development phase, with penetration rates below 30 percent at the end of 2007. In percentage terms, it was noted that Africa is the fastest-growing market globally and the second smallest in connections after the Middle East.

As Nigeria accounts for 57 percent of West African mobile phones, the country is acknowledged as Africa’s leading and fastest-growing telecom market. Her contributions to West Africa and Africa’s telecommunication growth cannot be overemphasized, with mobile phone users at 44,932,181 and 734,444 for GSM and mobile CDMA, respectively. While the overall economic growth rate is 7% annually, mobile telephony is about 35-50%. Assuming that each of these connections was busy for a minute, the country’s telecoms market can generate over USD 16 million per day (USD16,666,667) and close to USD 6 billion per year (USD 5,833,333,300). This is why telecom companies such as Visafone and Etisalat quickly joined MTN, Globacom, Celtel, and other telecom service providers in exploiting opportunities in the country.