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Nigeria has enormous resources, most of which are yet to be fully exploited. Tremendous investment opportunity exists in the solid minerals sector. Mineral resources include coal, tin, iron ore and others. Agricultural products include, among others, groundnuts, palm oil, cocoa and coconut. Nigeria also has a booming leather and textile industry and is one of the largest oil producers on the continent creating huge inflows of foreign investment.
In spite of periodic crises, Nigeria offers a stable political environment. In April 2011, the Independent National Electoral Commission organized legislative, gubernatorial, and presidential elections. While imperfect, the elections were considered Nigeria’s most successful since its return to multiparty democracy in 1999, and reversed a downward trajectory of successively flawed election processes. The international business community increasingly sees Nigeria as the central driver of a vast African market.
The Nigerian government has put in place a comprehensive package of investment incentives to stimulate private sector investment from within and outside the country. Among them are the Companies Income Tax Act which has been amended to encourage potential and existing investors and entrepreneurs; Pioneer status gives industries a fiveyear tax holiday; and tax relief is provided for research and development.
Strong banking and financial sector
In 2009, Nigeria took significant steps to strengthen the banking sector. These reforms came on top of a major banking overhaul in 2006 that reduced the number of banks and increased a bank’s minimal capital requirement. Retail, corporate and internet banking are seen as intensively competitive, and the home loan market is considered moderately competitive. Since 1999, the Nigerian Stock Exchange has enjoyed strong performance.
Lucrative telecommunications market
Nigeria is also home to the most lucrative telecoms market in Africa, which is growing at twice the African average. The explosion of industries such as the mobile telecommunications market and the unparalleled success of foreign companies such as South Africa’s MTN have demonstrated that potential can be turned into reality.
Large consumer market
With a population of more than 155 million, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa (one in every six Africans a Nigerian) and is the eighth most populous country in the world. The structure of its population with 75% of the populace under age 30 and an excellent regional distribution of eight “anchor” cities each with populations exceeding 1 million suggests a healthy growth picture going forward.
Free market economy
The Nigerian government has created a favorable climate for business and industrial ventures. Administrative and bureaucratic procedures have been greatly streamlined. The government has put in place policies and programs that guarantee a free market economy. In recent years, it privatized the only government-owned petrochemical company and sold its interest in eight oil service companies. It overturned a number of suspect contracts awarded by previous governments.
Nigeria’s gross domestic product remains strong and steady, growing at a rate of 6.9% in 2011 compared to 8.1% in 2010. It is projected to grow 6.7% in 2012. A series of recent policy initiatives to transform its agricultural sector is expected to put Nigeria’s growth into double-digit territory in the 2012–2015 timeframe. This would put its growth rate ahead of two other emerging markets, Brazil and Russia, and slightly behind India and China.
Nigeria is rapidly developing its physical and industrial infrastructure, in terms of transportation, communications, electricity and water supply. Extensive road repairs and new construction activities are gradually being implemented as state governments, in particular, spend their portions of enhanced government revenue allocations. Four of Nigeria’s airports–Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt and Abuja–currently receive international flights and there are several domestic private Nigerian carriers.
Future economic power
In 2011, analysts at Citigroup listed Nigeria as one of 11 Global Growth Generators, economies which have been identified as sources of growth potential and of profitable investment opportunities. In 2005, Goldman Sachs identified Nigeria as one of its N11 countries, states with a high potential of becoming, along with the BRICS, the world’s largest economies in the 21st century.