ECOWAS member nations highlight investment potentials in Lagos

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - West African nations took their turns in Lagos to showcase available investment opportunities and incentives for would-be investors with an assurance for high return on investments.

“Senegal has a history of being one of the most politically-stable countries in Africa. It has strong democratic base with good tradition of tolerance and peaceful co-existence. We have good climate condition and arable land for agriculture,” Houma Mbaye Dia, of the Investment Promotion and Major Projects (APIX), said on Friday, the second day of the ECOWAS Investment Forum in the commercial city of Lagos.

According to her, the French West African country, which gained independence in 1960, operates an open and dynamic economy, with inflation rate below 2% and a rising economic growth rate of 5% in 2008, moving up to 3.5% last year.

Dia said investors could take advantage of the various incentives put in place by the Investment Promotion Agency to invest in tourism, housing, telecommunications, roads, transportation, agriculture and housing, among others.

She said: “Senegal does not discriminate between national and foreigners. We have no limitation in employing expatriates, there is guarantee of property rights, guarantee of transfers of capitals and earnings.

"Before, it takes up to 50 days before you can set up or register a business in Senegal, but with the advent of APIX you can register and get approval within 48 hours," she explained.

Highlighting investment opportunities in Cote d'Ivoire, Mr. Benjamin Bilin-Dadie of the Ivorian Investment agency, said the business climate is conducive for local and foreign investments, as the security situation has greatly improved.

He noted that investors operating in the country can enjoy 35% tax reduction and 5-8 years Value Added Tax (VAT) exemption in the mining sector, depending on the location.

Mr. Blin-Dadie said various projects in the national development plan 2013-2015 in the next three years, estimated at US$ 20 billion, are opened for investors to take advantage.

According to him, ”We have about 60 projects to be funded under the public-private-partnership (PPP) arrangement. There is the rehabilitation of the 700-kilometre Abidjan-Bouke-Bourkina Faso road. We also have the rehabilitation of roads to the border with Mali, at a cost of US$ 360 million under the PPP arrangement.

"We will soon invite bids for the construction of a dry port, and the maintenance of some educational facilities, costing US$ 1 billion."

He said the country has a housing deficit of more than 400,000 units and it will require US$ 866 million to build additional houses.

The Ivorian Investment Agency official also disclosed that great opportunities are available in the energy, industries and mining sectors, adding that the construction of a railway to link San Pedro and Guinea can also be tapped into.

Gambian, Ghanaian and Nigerian officials also showcased the huge potentials in their countries, pointing to the abundant labour force, excellent air connections to other parts of the world, huge deposits of raw materials, generous tax law and high returns on investments.

Chief Investment Officer of Heirs Holdings, a Nigerian company, Mr. Sam Nwaze, said Africa has become the beautiful pride and key investment destination because its economy is growing.

He said the growth has been largely driven by increases in commodity prices and Telecommunications which opened up great business opportunities and reduced distances among Africans.

“The introduction of cell phones and telecommunications has linked people, businesses and opportunities. There is increased regional integration, the various regional economic communities are also fuelling the growth we are witnessing in Africa. The big challenge is how the growth could be inclusive and sustainable. How do we make the growth translate to improve living conditions for greater number of citizens? So it is important for us to allow the private sector take the lead in economic development and public goods," Nwaze said.

He said while the public sector is concentrating on providing the enabling environment, the private sector must try to think of re-investing in the African economy as it makes profit and thinks about long-term development.
-0- PANA SB/VAO 7June2013

07 june 2013 19:13:17

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