• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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Aviation minister entices UK investors with Nigerian airports

hadi-sirika

Nigeria’s trade and investment road show to the United Kingdom (UK) got underway yesterday at the foreign commonwealth office in London; and Hadi Sirika, Minister of state for Aviation and one of the speakers, did not hold back in enticing the room full of investors with the Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano international airports.

The minister had disclosed plans to concession the four major Nigerian airports through a Public Private Partnership (PPP), as part of strategies to drive investments to the country and create jobs for its teeming population.

“Sirika played up plans to concession four major airports in Nigeria, as he addressed the room of investors,” a source present at the event told BusinessDay.

Experts in the aviation sector say the ploy to concession the four airports to private investors would be critical to growth prospects in Africa’s largest economy.

“The new concessionaires will generate more money and open other areas where FAAN was not looking into to make money. The problems we have with the airports are that they are run as civil service,” Wole Shadare, an aviation expert said in response to questions.

“If the airports are concessioned, the concessionaires can now double or triple what were realied previously, because they can look at new investment areas such as shopping malls, hotels, recreational centres, and build bigger terminals,” Shadare said.

The week-long investment road show opened yesterday with an industry event tagged “Nigeria Open for Business”, and highlighted business opportunities in the energy, agriculture, transport, solid minerals, ICT and infrastructure sectors to UK investors.

The “Nigeria Open for Business” featured keynote speeches from Hadi Sirika and the UK Trade Envoy to Nigeria, John Howell, as well as presentations from key UK government agencies, namely the UK Export Finance, Infrastructure and Projects Authority and multipliers.

Africa’s largest economy is on the brink of an economic recession and is ever more willing to leverage on PPPs in bridging its burgeoning infrastructure deficit, amid plunging revenues.

The UK Trade & Investment, in collaboration with Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), organisers of the road show, said its main objective was to highlight business opportunities in the energy, agriculture, transport, solid minerals and ICT sectors to UK investors.

“Investor confidence was somewhat bolstered when the representative of Nigeria’s Minister for Trade said the country would establish a good environment for UK investors to succeed,” a source revealed.

John Howell, Prime Minister Trade Envoy to Nigeria, speaking at the event, said Nigeria remains an attractive export investment destination for the UK.

“UK businesses are well placed to succeed in Nigeria because both countries share a common language and history,” Howell said.

Trade between the two countries fell below £8 billion in 2015 and Brexit has stoked fears that forecasts to achieve a trade volume of £15 billion may be affected by the Britains’s decision to slip away from Brussels’ central control.

Although negotiations are expected to commence on the exit plan of the UK from the EU, stakeholders in Nigeria note that there is no cause for alarm for Nigeria in the short term, as the UK and the EU have two years to figure out the terms of the exit, adding that the exit might mean investors looking at emerging markets like Nigeria for investments.

The Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, led a trade delegation from Nigeria for a four-day trade and investment road show in London, billed for July 11-15, 2016.

The trade and investment road show will be attended by a group of officials from the Federal and State governments.

Ministers billed for the event are Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, and his counterparts in the Agriculture & Rural Development Ministry, Audu Ogbeh; Water Resources Minister, Suleiman Adamu, as well as the Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the British government department that helps UK-based companies of all sizes to grow and become more profitable by exporting their products and services. UKTI also support all types of overseas businesses and business people to establish presence in the UK.

LOLADE AKINMURELE & IFEOMA OKEKE