Industry ministry to waste N1bn on another investment survey, N500m for road shows

THE Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has set aside N500 million in the 2024 budget for “investment promotion, image rebranding and roadshows.”

It also earmarked N1 billion for the “survey, feasibility and development of investable assets for foreign and local investments.”

Analysts consider these items as wasteful and ineffective considering that tens of road shows and investment drives embarked upon by the ministry in the past yielded little or zero results.

They also wonder why the ministry cannot take existing lists of investable assets published by professional organisations and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), but is bent on developing a new one at the cost of N1 billion.

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In Nigeria, N1 billion can pay the 12-month minimum wage (N360,000) of 2,777 people.

The ministry is also spending another N25 million for “international investment engagement activities.”

Road shows, no shows

The ministry has embarked upon several roads shows aimed at attracting local and foreign investors.

In 2016, five Nigerian ministers travelled to London, the United Kingdom capital, for the Nigeria Trade and Investment Road Show which held between July 11 and July 15.

The Nigerian government officials who attended the event included: former Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah; Mr Rotimi Amaechi (Transportation); Mr Audu Ogbeh (Agriculture and Rural Development); Mr Suleiman Adamu (Water Resources), and Mr Hadi Sirika (Aviation).

The event was organised by the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI). The event did not bring any new UK investor to Nigeria. However, some UK investors have exited Nigeria since the event, including British big pharma GlaxoSmithKline.

Similarly, the UK fast-moving consumer goods company, Unilever, announced the exit of its home care and skin cleansing from Nigeria in March 2023. This ended the era of memorable products such as Omo, Sunlight and Lux.

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In fact, foreign investments into Nigeria fell from $5.33 billion the following year to $1.06 billion in 2022, said the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Several past Nigerian ministers have also embarked upon road shows but without results.

During a recent budget presentation at the Senate, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Doris Uzoka-Anite, was criticised by a senator, Mr Adams Oshiomole, for planning a trip to Geneva, Switzerland, at the cost of N1 billion.

BPE list still relevant

The BPE has identified investable assets such as Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), as well as National Integrated Power Projects in Olorunsogo, Calabar II, Benin (located at Ihorbor), Omotosho II and Geregu II plants, Punch reported.

Other assets are: hydro power plants across the country, including Oyan, Lower Usuma, Katsina-Ala and Giri plants.

Abuja Water Board, Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria, National Film Corporation, National Theatre, and Lagos International Trade Fair are also considered for investments.

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Duplication of efforts

A PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report estimates that Nigeria holds $300 billion to $900 billion worth of dead capital in residential real estate and agricultural land alone.

“The high value real estate market segment holds between $230 billion and $750 billion of value, while the middle market carries between $60 billion and $170 billion in value,” the report notes.

Apart from the PwC research-report, there have also been several reports that have identified investible assets in Nigeria, including newspaper reports on assets considered for sale by the Bureau of Public Enterprises.

Analysts believe the ministry is merely planning to duplicate efforts. Duplication of efforts and resources is commonplace in Nigeria. This is fuelled by lack of cooperation among government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), as well as corruption and poor policy coordination.

Experts believe that the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment should look at what has already been done by others to cut costs.

“You do not need to travel anywhere to identify those projects. The BPE has a list of all of them. And I know they already have valuations for them. What the ministry may now do is to re-evaluate them, factoring in depreciation, amortisation and other relevant metrics,” said a United Kingdom-based economist, Dr Kolawole Adewunmi, in a text message.

On road shows, Nigeria has poor doing business environment which is hurting investments. It ranked 131st worldwide, with a general score of 56.9, in the 2020 World Bank Doing Business ranking. The global body no longer produces the report.

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However, insecurity, multiplicity of taxes, poor infrastructure, bribery and corruption , as well as policy flip-flops are issues hurting investments in Nigeria.

“Nobody needs to embark on road shows to convince investors that their environment is right. A new investor from Norway will ask Norwegian companies in the country how they are doing,” Dr Adewunmi said.

“If the answer is in the negative, no one comes. You can embark upon 20 road shows, but if you don’t put your house in order, nothing happens. So, for me, this is a total waste of resources because the Nigerian business environment isn’t right. The minister should concentrate on making Nigeria competitive for trade, investment and industrialisation.”


Stella Odiche
+ posts

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