On Thursday, October 27, the 2016 edition of the ‘Investor Conference’ organized by FBN Quest held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island Lagos. The conference was themed “An economy at crossroads: Thriving in the face of new realities”. It had in attendance top government officials and participants from leading financial institutions within and outside Nigeria.

The Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okey Enelamah told private investors at the conference that the current economic downtime is only a “short-term headwind” which should not becloud the country’s market attractiveness.

During the event,  Okey Enelamah spoke on the topic ‘Matching Opportunities with Patient Capital’. He explained the importance of government partnership with the private sector in order to move the country’s economy forward. The minister further explained government’s readiness to go into private partnerships which would help it get desired results.

“I am fully persuaded and sure that with the contribution of government today, that if we are going to get [a] result, it has to be the private sector. The size of the GDP is not up to N100 trillion [and] the size of [the] budget of government is maybe N6 or N7 trillion; if you look at the infrastructure here, it is huge, so you don’t have to be a genius to know that unless you create that atmosphere where that partnership can happen quickly, then you won’t get the result,” the minister said.

According to Enelamah, “Countries in difficulty have used different strategies to strengthen and diversify their economies.  That is why Nigeria needs to move away from over-dependence on oil. Diversification and growth are key to economic recovery and ensuring a more stable future. Nigeria should have a strong local base of investors because foreigners will always leave leading to dry up of capital.”

Enelamah listed the five execution principles of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (MITI). They include: creating a favourable economic framework, support to Micro, Small Scale and Medium Enterprises (MSME), sector prioritization, partnership and joint ventures and immediate implementation of policies. The minister encouraged investors to look beyond the present state of the economy, saying that “the current environment is a case of ‘a crisis is too great an opportunity to waste’”.

This conference came at a time when Nigeria is in a recession and the revenue which the government heavily relies on, oil revenue, is dwindling. This situation, made worse by several militant attacks on oil facilities in the south and the unstable exchange rate, has made several private businesses to fold up and some foreign investors leaving the country. However, there has been a major emphasis on the need to strengthen local investors at this economically difficult time, so that they can help improve the economy.

Earlier this month, President Muhammadu Buhari, while speaking to local manufacturers, challenged private sector operators to take the lead in the battle to revive the economy. He said they hold the key to its quick recovery.

Beyond the discussions, it is imperative for the government to be decisive and accurate about its economic policies. Being consistent in the application of policies that affect businesses gives private investors’ confidence and advertently boosts their participation in the country’s economic growth and development.

The Innovator Conference is an annual event and this year’s edition is the 6th since it started in 2011. FBN Quest is the brand name of the investment banking and asset management businesses of FBN Holdings Plc., which comprises FBN Capital Limited, FBN Securities Limited, FBN Capital Asset Management Limited, FBN Trustees Limited, FBN Funds Limited and FBN Capital Partners Limited.

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