The American Business Council has said it sees positive opportunities for the private sector in Nigeria amid issues of multiplicities of policy challenges.
Magaret Olele, the Chief Executive Officer, American Business Council said this during its 2022 economic update titled, “the opportunities and imperative for businesses.”
The event, in partnership with KPMG saw experts discuss on opportunities in 2022, plans by the Federal Government for the private sector as well as reforms that will drive development via investments beyond.
Key highlights of the event
Olele, while speaking to journalists on the key takeaway of the event noted that there is a keen interest for the private sector to work with the public sector in terms of navigating through fiscal challenges.
Commenting on the opportunities for the private sector, she pointed out that the digital tech space is growing exponentially adding that there is a lot of interest on the US side, in the creative and entertainment sectors.
She added there is also the Lagos free zone which portends an opportunity to tolerate the challenges of infrastructure. “Because then you are able to go a place where you have an all-in-one opportunity to get things sorted out. That way we see positive opportunities for the private sector.”
On the banking sector, she pointed out that there is a great interest for the banking industry to fund FMCGs, however, she added that sectors like Healthcare are not seeing this level of support because the bank still cannot see them as clear business opportunity.
”What we are hearing from the NIPC is that the government is running some level of intervention to see how that sector will become very attractive in terms of investment,” she said.
Speaking on why the insurance sector has continued to lag amid its peers, it noted that the challenges lie in the industry itself.
She said, “I think the insurance sectors are the back promoters of themselves, they need to do a bit more to let people know about their advantage and opportunities, the health insurance, for instance, is growing, but it is still like a very minuscule because they are not thinking innovatively – there is a bit about growth opportunity awareness, and there is also a bit of putting in some level of innovation into what you do. So how do you get more groups to get acquainted or align with the HMOs? How are you able to hold in a lot more association in the area of Health insurance and leverage health insurance to input overall the health care situation in the country? I think these are the questions that health insurance companies should ask themselves.”
Speaking on the significant improvement ABC has witnessed over the years, Margaret stated, “In 2017 when I joined, we were 33 but today we are about 70. It tells you that despite the challenges that we faced in the country in terms of the ease of doing business, Nigeria is still an attractive business place and all we need to do is to get a bit more things in order.
“Every time I get companies in the US making enquiries about different sectors, obviously critical sectors in the system, they want to know more of the entry spot, the market entry. Intelligent conversations, and that tells me that we are actually in a good place. We just need to understand that we need to get to a better place and get true policies that would encourage investors to do business in Nigeria.”
Ari Aisen, IMF Country Representative to Nigeria also noted, that policy reforms that are more oriented to create a conducive environment for the private sector is very important. He said, “higher access to credit, higher access to foreign exchange, more predictable, feasible horizon for macro-economic stability and with less volatility, these all can contribute a lot together with advantages of the AFTCFA; for that it means, different trade policies, more tariffs, less protectionist and betting on the ability of the private sector to take advantage on the huge economies of scale, not only of Nigeria but of Africa”