ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE NIGERIA – CANADA INVESTMENT SUMMIT 2019 (NCIS – 2019), ABUJA, ON MONDAY, 4TH NOVEMBER 4, 2019
I am extremely pleased to be here with you at the Nigeria-Canada Investment Summit 2019. I was here at the 2018 summit and I mentioned then, that the summits are important processes, not just events in deepening the socio-economic ties between Nigeria and Canada. There is no question that both our governments and business communities realize that there is enormous potential in our relationship.
Indeed since 2018, aside from summits in both countries, the sheer number of high-level contacts and visits of so many high-level officials, really endorse the fact that this is a very important relationship.
In 2018, the Governor-General of Canada, and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Canada, Her Excellency Julie Payette visited. There was also an earlier working visit of Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s Minister for International Development and La Francophone (now Minister for Agriculture and Agri-Food) and thereafter, Canada’s Minister in Charge of Immigration, Honourable Ahmed Hussein.
As we have heard, two Royal Canadian Navy ships berth to Lagos for very important joint training in security in the Gulf of Guinea. And as we have also heard, this was the first in the 108 years of the existence of the Royal Canadian Navy.
Our trade and commerce relationship have also been long-standing, and Nigeria has remained a major trading partner to Canada in Africa. We’ve also heard that bilateral trade is in the order of $984 billion. When that is put in context, we really have a long way to go. Canada’s imports include; mineral, fuels and oils, cocoa, rubber, lead and processed foods. Canada’s exports include; vehicles, equipment, manufacturing equipment, software and aircraft. We also have in place a double taxation agreement, which came into force I believe sometime in 1999 and we expect that our Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA) will be concluded and ratified by both countries as early as possible in 2020.
We expect that in the first quarter of 2020, we ought to have that agreement in place. This summit is particularly important, we have much richer private and public sector participation than before. The focus is on mining, power, agriculture, housing, education and technology. These are sectors that Nigeria has identified as crucial to the success of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. And we are determined to work collaboratively with investors to create the best possible environment for business in these sectors. We are determined, not just to ensure that we keep to the plans that we put in place, but that we encourage all our partners to work with us.
In mining, our Mining Industry Growth Roadmap lays out the scale of our ambitions in this sector and it goes beyond just extraction and exportation.
We intend to create a broad spectrum of value-added services by fully maximizing the abundant opportunities for mineral resource beneficiation, exploiting the possibilities in support services and support industries that will be nurtured around core mining activities. We are, of course, all excited about the prospects evident in the Spring Fountain and Bullion Mart collaboration and we look forward to that coming to fruition.
In the power sector, we believe that investment in renewable energy is bound to benefit from our focus, especially on off-grid and mini-grid options for delivering power to our huge population and commerce. Our Energizing Education Programme, which is installing private solar power facilities in several of our universities, and the Energizing market programme also, which is private solar power in markets and economic clusters all around the country; these have demonstrated that businesses are prepared to pay for regular power supply, and that this is a tremendous area of growth for renewable energy, for business and commerce in that respect. Given the very high radiation all around the country, the solar option makes perfect sense.
In agriculture and agri-business also, there are tremendous prospects. Our government believes that the next few years are crucial for our vision of food security and especially self-sufficiency in the production of different food and cash crops. But the whole agri-business value chain is open for investment. The sheer size of our market now, and in the immediate future, the export potentials point inexorably to the importance of investment in this sector.
Housing is also a crucial area of focus for us. With a housing deficit of about 17 million, the demand is obvious. Our Family Homes Fund is a special public-private sector fund dedicated to our mass low-cost housing scheme. Solving the off-taker constraints also calls for mortgage finance solutions. There is plenty of room for activity in the housing sector.
The next few years promise to be exciting for industry, trade and commerce in Nigeria, especially with the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement. Nigeria remains the most logical destination for reaping maximum benefit from these agreements. Consequently, we have devoted considerable attention to improving the Nigerian business environment and we have by all accounts, recorded notable success.
Since 2016, we have risen by an aggregate of 39 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings. Just two weeks ago, the World Bank also rated Nigeria as one of the 10 best reforming economies in the world. We are set for business, and we look forward to continued engagement with the Canadian government and business community in the coming months and years.
Let me commend the Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada His Excellency, Ambassador Ade Asekun, and his team, and Mr. Taiwo Odutola, MD/CEO of the Nigerian Investment Summit, for the incredible hard work that they have put into this summit and previous summits and engagements here and in Canada.
We welcome all the Canadian businesses, government representatives, and all our friends, partners from Canada to Abuja, and to this summit. In particular, we welcome the distinguished delegation from the City of Brampton, and we certainly look forward to meeting with them.
I urge all our friends from Canada to be sure to take in the sights and sounds of Abuja while you are here and, of course, indulge in some of our well-known culinary delights. My recommendation last year was Suya, this year it is our world-famous jollof rice! I would like you to take part in it.
It is now my special privilege and pleasure to declare open the Nigeria – Canada Investment Summit 2019.
Thank you very much.