Investing In Nigeria

Investing In Nigeria

When investors think about investing in markets with high growth potential, they often focus on the BRIC Nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China). However, the economic performance of countries such as India has been poor of late – witness the precipitous decline of the rupee – and stock markets in China are not seeing the explosive growth that they were a few years ago. Given this changing landscape, what are some of the other markets that may offer investors profit opportunities?

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One market that no investor can afford to ignore is West Africa, and particularly the powerhouse of the region, Nigeria. In comparison with other populous African nations, GDP growth in Africa is particularly strong. In 2012, the economy in Nigeria grew at a rate of 6.6%, and 2013 growth is shaping up to be similar. In comparison, South Africa’s GDP grew at 2.5% in 2012, and Kenya’s economy posted 4.3% growth. Coupled with the fact that the population of Nigeria is in excess of 160 million people – almost rivaling the population of Brazil – the investment potential starts to become obvious.

Of course, a significant proportion of the Nigerian economy is tied to oil production, with entrepreneurs such as Kashim Bukar Shettima leading significant growth in the sector. However, Nigeria also has strong positions in a number of other commodities, including cocoa and coffee, and it is one of the largest producers of palm oil in the world. Overall, agricultural production is increasing at 5.9% a year throughout West Africa, and Nigeria accounts for a significant proportion of this growth. In fact, production of agricultural commodities in Nigeria accounts for more than a quarter of its GDP, exceeding $100 billion every year. This large and growing market is also driving demand for agricultural equipment and tools, providing further opportunities for investors in the country.

However, growth in Nigeria is by no means limited to the agricultural and oil sectors. For example, construction in the country grew by a very impressive 12.3% in 2011, a growth rate which is significantly in excess of that in China. There is also increasing focus on information technology, with Nigerian companies setting up ICT outsourcing facilities there, as well as developing specific software technologies for the Nigerian market. The Nigerian banking sector is also experiencing significant growth, and is one of the largest in sub-Saharan Africa.

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It appears that investors are starting to get the message. In a recent report put out by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the primary organization within the UN dealing with investment, trade and economic development issues, Nigeria was the number one foreign investment destination in Africa in 2012, the second year in a row that it achieved this distinction. The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow to Nigeria in 2012 was approximately $7 billion, compared to approximately $4.5 billion for South Africa. That is made all the more impressive when you consider that the GDP of South Africa is approximately 50% more than that of Nigeria – when this is taken into account, foreign investment as a percentage of GDP in Nigeria is over twice that of South Africa.

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