The UK-Africa investment summit was inaugurated Monday in London, teed off by Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, in the full glare of 21 African Heads of State and a great many other participants.
Investors from within and outside the UK, entrepreneurs, captains of industry, international institutions, diplomats and other members of the business community congregated to have a vibrant discourse on ways to harness new opportunities in Africa for UK businesses.
Mr Johnson is looking beyond the European Union (EU) and casting its glance elsewhere in order to position the UK to leverage investment opportunities in and foster relations with Africa ahead of his country’s anticipated exit from the EU.
The first of its kind, the summit had British investors ink deals estimated to be £324 million (more than N153.4 billion) with their Nigerian counterparts.
Ndidiamaka Eze, Press and Public Affairs Officer, British Deputy High Commission Lagos disclosed that the conference aimed to foster synergies that would birth new investments, growth and jobs that would create mutual benefits for Nigeria and the UK.
Among such advantages are sustainable energy and greater involvement of women in economic development.
Ndidiamaka, who spoke through a statement, noted that offerings from the UK to Nigeria included development of the UK-Nigeria trade and investment partnership, UK’s readiness to help Nigeria create a favourable business environment, suitable for economic growth, and UK’s provision of assistance in addressing land issues for investment, solidifying and revamping the finance sector.
“Helping entrepreneurs secure access to finance; preparing the ground for the launch in the UK of naira-denominated bonds – “Jollof Bonds”; and developing the tech sector.
“Substantial initiatives to accelerate the clean energy transformation in Nigeria, through enhanced technical and financial support.
“Strong commitments to harness private sector support for social development, particularly supporting women and young people in business,” she said.
Catriona Laing, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, said “Nigeria has already secured billions of naira worth of deals from the summit. With the launch of an exciting range of initiatives to help investors identify opportunities in Nigeria, I am confident much more will follow.
“I am proud the summit had a strong focus on supporting female participation in the economy. In Africa, women are more likely to become entrepreneurs than men and, with a fast-growing population; Nigeria needs to harness the dynamism of its women to ensure prosperity for all its people.”
Chris Pycroft, Head Department for International Development in Nigeria, who also attended the occasion stated that “I am delighted we are able to use our aid programme in Nigeria to support this agenda – from small steps like helping the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission produce an investment guide through to the serious investment we are making in strengthening Nigeria’s agriculture and finance sectors.
“As well as stimulating the economy and creating the jobs needed to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty, this package of partnerships will deliver a range of wider social benefits, from improving energy access on to extending access to banking and loans to the poorest consumers and female entrepreneurs.”
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