Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday described the continent of Africa as a land of immense opportunities, noting that Foreign Direct Investment inflow into the region was expected to hit $75.5bn by the end of this year.
Osinbajo stated this in Abuja at the opening session of a two-day high level policy and private sector forum on trade and investment facilitation for development.
The event was hosted by Nigeria in collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission and World Trade Organisation, among others.
He said the expected investment inflows of $75.5bn into the region would be far higher than the $56.5bn recorded in 2016.
Osinbajo stated, “We are in a time of critical challenges and in a time of huge opportunities, our population will equal the population of India and China together by 2050.
“Some say so earlier, by the same year we will have the youngest population in the world, climate change has great impact on Africa than elsewhere and security challenges stubbornly remain in many of our states.”
He added, “Yet consumers’ spending is projected to reach $1.4tn in the next few years and business to business spending to reach $3.5tn in the next eight years.
“African economies are doing better than ever before despite the difficult global economic environment; Gross Domestic Product growth rate, with average 2.2 per cent in 2015, is estimated to rise to 3.4 per cent this year and to 4.3 per cent in 2018, all above the global average.”
The vice-president stated that for Africa to maximise the benefits of its huge potential, there was a need to take the issue of trade and investment very importantly as it was vital for economic development.
He, however, noted that poor infrastructure and lack of capacity building needed to be addressed to ensure that trade and investments takes the centre stage in economic development of the continent.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, said developing countries, including Nigeria, needed about $2.5tn yearly investment to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
He stated that the country’s improvement in the World Bank ease of doing business ranking was a demonstration of the effectiveness of the government’s recent policies.
In his comments, the Director-General, WTO, Roberto Azevedo, said trade and investment had proven to be the best economic tool to stimulate development.
The President, ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alain de Souza, called on members to facilitate the use of a common currency in the sub-region.