Investors should look beyond distractions of forex crisis – Peterside

By The Citizen

Investors who want to invest in Nigeria should look beyond the distractions from the current foreign exchange situation in the country in order to make better and profitable long-term decisions, the Chairman of Cadbury Plc, Mr. Atedo Peterside, has said.

Peterside stated this while delivering a welcome address at the 2016 Standard Bank West Africa Investors' Conference held in Lagos, yesterday.

The conference was themed: 'Unlocking Nigeria's Potential…growing through diversification'

He said: 'By rising above the distractions and uncertainties surrounding the short-term foreign exchange situation and   evaluating Nigeria's long-term potential in key sectors of the economy, such as infrastructure, power and gas, consumer goods, agriculture, etc., investors will be better guided and positioned to take informed decisions on where the best long-term returns on investment will eventually emerge from.'

According to him, 'Efforts at economic diversification are still at a relatively early stage of execution and are hampered by exchange rate uncertainties. This has created a very challenging backdrop for policy makers to operate against as the private sector is naturally pre-occupied at present with the short-term pursuit of scarce forex at official rates which guarantee huge windfall incomes for the lucky recipient.'

The Stanbic chairman said dollar shortages in Nigeria had reached levels where 'most investors here are currently caught up in a frenzied pursuit of the cheapest available dollars. Everybody wants to take foreign exchange out and nobody really wants to bring it in,' he said, adding: 'Without investment there will be no new jobs.'

He noted that, 'The need for decisive diversification of the economy becomes even more apparent when we consider the yearning needs of the populace for new jobs and/or welfare packages that will help drag significant numbers of them up from below the poverty line.

He added, 'Given the government's plan to boost economic activity through extensive spending on infrastructure as well as on social projects, it potentially provides a platform through which the private sector can partner with government.'

Peterside said, 'It is clear to most stakeholders that government cannot attempt to close the infrastructural gap alone without recklessly expanding Nigeria's debt burden. This makes it imperative that the government clearly articulates a policy regime which enables both the private sector and the public sector to allocate scarce resources more efficiently.' Vanguard