“American entrepreneurs and American companies are eager to partner with and invest in Nigeria’s economy, particularly in the tech sector…,” he said.
Corruption and difficulty in repatriating capital amongst others are some of the reasons American entrepreneurs eager to invest in Nigeria are stalling, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told journalists at Nigeria’s Aso Villa on Tuesday.
“American entrepreneurs and American companies are eager to partner with and invest in Nigeria’s economy, particularly in the tech sector… Nigeria offers real, clear, compelling opportunities for investors. At the same time, I think it is no secret that there remain some long-term challenges that need to be overcome…,” he said.
After meeting with President Bola Tinubu, Mr Blinken told journalists that to unlock Nigeria’s full potential and improve direct investment, the West African country must tackle corruption and make it easier for foreign companies to repatriate capital.
“Tackling corruption, making it easier for foreign companies to repatriate capital, these will all pull in a transformative direction and pull in transformative direct investment,” he said.
PREMIUM TIMES reports that at least three manufacturing companies last year announced they were ending manufacturing operations in Nigeria, opting for alternative means of doing business due to various reasons including those raised by Mr Blinken.
According to Mr Blinken, these investors are particularly interested in the tech sector. “We have tech giants that are teamed up with Nigerian partners to help meet the president’s news One Million Digital Jobs Initiative.”
He added that other companies are laying undersea cables, using satellite technology to expand internet access in Nigeria.
Mr Blinken said he believes President Tinubu’s administration is focussed on addressing the challenges.
“I know that President Tinubu is focused on these challenges, and we also welcome his very bold economic reforms to unify the currency and end fuel subsidy.
“We also recognise that in the short term, these reforms created pain for vulnerable communities.
“I spoke about some ways that the United States can support Nigerians while the government carries out these essential reforms, and work to protect those who may again in the short term, be negatively affected,” he said.
Mr Blinken said that in spite of the identified challenges in Nigeria, the government and American entrepreneurs still continue to explore the great potential of the country in reaching Africa.
He said that large investments are being made by private sector companies in collaboration with local entities to ensure development, especially in the health sector.
“Over the last five years, we’ve invested $8.3 billion in HIV tuberculosis prevention, care and treatment, and in strengthening the public health system, reaching millions of Nigerians and that effort will continue.
“Our partnership is also strengthening Nigerian institutions to innovate and lead the region’s public health response.
“We’re driving climate action. As partners in the global coalition. We’re working in collaborating to support the development and use of artificial intelligence for good with 30 other Atlantic countries.
“Because one of the things we’ve learned from these partnerships is that it benefits us as much as any place or any company that we’re investing in,” he said.
The US Secretary of State is in Nigeria as part of his week-long tour of four African countries. He said the US is committed to strengthening genuine partnerships on the continent, solving shared challenges, and also to deliver on the promise and the fundamental aspirations of citizens.
He added that Nigeria is essential to the efforts of the US on the continent and listed other areas of partnership including driving climate action as partners in the Global Methane Coalition and pushing for permanent representation in the UN Security Council and other international organisations.
Mr Blinken described Nigeria as a place of extraordinary innovation and extraordinary dynamism.