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FEEDBACK: NIGERIA Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Posted by Business in Ghana on September 6, 2014

Interactive discussion with the Nigerian Diaspora – September 2nd 2014

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Honorable Minister of Finance of Nigeria spent 2 hours interacting with approx. 150 senior members of Nigeria’s Diaspora in NY on the evening of 2nd September. This was followed by similar events across the USA over the week.

As many of you will know, the Minister of Finance is a very energetic, passionate, and candid advocate for a better and less corrupt Nigeria. Her book “Reforming the Unreformable” provides a frank insight to the turnaround that she has been able to administer over the past decade  –

A presentation was followed by one hour of Q & A (which could have easily extended to 2 hours). We have requested the [powerpoint] presentation, which we would be happy to share at your request.

A few of the key takeways/ discussion points; (apologies if any errors with specific data-points)

  • Ebola – All [airport] passengers’ are checked prior to departure for abnormal temperatures. There have been 17 cases (14 Lagos) of which 7 have been discharged. This emanated from one person arriving in to the country. 6 deaths (all caregivers). 1 death in port harcourt (caregiver, infected survived). Every state has an isolation unit set up. Extensive supplies of protective gear now in place.
  • Boko Haram – Troops have recently entered Cameroon and are being supported by international partners such as the UK and USA. Boko Haram have not provided specific demands making it difficult to negotiate. The safety of the students remains a [Presidential] priority vs a quick but potentially harmful solution.
  • Schools/ Education – Increased focus on Education in the north of the country going forward. They have been working on a safe school initiative with Gordon Brown (ex UK PM) and other countries including the US, UK and Germany. Agriculture, Infrastructure and welfare remain Long Term strategic goals for the north.
  • Economy –  acknowledgement as Africa’s largest economy but continued need for improvement on a per capita basis. 6.3% GDP growth conservatively expected in 2014 (vs IMF at 7%) due to Ebola outbreak. May consider increased foreign debt, due to imbalance vs local debt, yet cognisant of previous issues re Paris club (forgiveness). Will remain fiscally responsible.
  • Tax Receivables – Hired Mckinsey to assist with increasing Tax revenues. Tax Revenues currently 12% / GDP vs traditional Emerging market levels at 20%/GDP. 65% of registered business/parties do not pay. 75% of SME’s are not registered.
  • Sovereign wealth fund now at $1.55 Bn.
  • Excess crude account at $40.5 Bn (July).
  • Eurobond trading at 4-5% vs 7% in 2011. A sign of fiscal prudence. Local debt paying 11-12% currently.
  • Dangote and other major local businessman now backing key sectors on a grand scale (Dangote – $9 Bn Petrol Refinery, $1Bn Rice). Tony Elumelu and Heirs Holding another example.
  • Manufacturing doing very well
  • Power reforms will take time, be patient. A solid gas supply, fair pricing structure and distribution is key. The sovereign wealth fund is investing in the sector.
  • Public Private Partnerships (PPP’s) will be key going forward – Working on various large scale partnerships
  • Plans to build 5 new (modern) airport terminals incl. Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja. Other new airports also key to transporting perishable foods to market from other areas. A strategic goal.
  • ICT – Government now providing access to 50 services online including passports and patents.
  • National ID cards – underway on trial basis in partnership with Mastercard. Will revolutionize the country, and banking/ loan system. Mass roll out (30m ) in due course.
  • Agriculture – 6.5 farmers with e-wallets (for the purchase of fertilizer) has helped to counter subsidy (agent) corruption.
  • Exports – Exporting Casava chips to China. Now a Net Exporter of Cement.
  • Housing – Acknowledged as a key stimulant for growth. Nigerian Mortgage Finance company (NMRC) launched in January 2014 to support extension of mortgages.
  • Statistics office to start tracking jobs created. Need 1.8 mn jobs a year (entering workforce), only 1.2 m created in 2013.
  • Nollywood – 1.2% of GDP.
  • HE Finance Minister will return to the USA in a few months with specific investment opportunities.
  • SME sector (for which Segun Aganga – Minister of Trade & Investment is responsible) – 220 Bn Naira fund has been set up (20% solely for women).
  • Airport Financing – China provided a cheaper loan that a Development Finance institution. African Development Bank not the only option.
  • Police (decentralisation per state) – Suggesting that the police should continue to be run at a federal vs state level until better managed/ standardised overall.
  • Healthcare – Open to private investment. Interestingly, the majority of HE Minister’s family are doctors, incl. husband.
  • Corruption – Some leakages are being plugged such as agricultural subsidies while “biometric’ payments have stamped out a significant number of ghost workers within  the government. More systems and processes need to be put in place.

One Response to “FEEDBACK: NIGERIA Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala”

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