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Communique of Nig Diaspora Investment Summit

By Abdurrahman Balogun

THE ABUJA COMMUNIQUE OF THE INAUGURAL NIGERIA DIASPORA INVESTMENT SUMMIT

The inaugural Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit, a Landmark summit with the theme “Activating Diaspora Investments for a Diversified Economy” took place at the Presidential Banquet Hall, Abuja, Nigeria, November 27 – 29, 2018.

The summit was a Call to Tap into the Enormity of Diaspora Expertise and Resources as Nigeria’s Surest Path to a Strong Economy and to Prioritize Incentives and Policy to Facilitate the Engagement of Diaspora in all Sectors of the Economy.

The Summit assembled over 250 participants, 65 project submissions, several Banks, Nigerian Diaspora investors, businessmen and interested business promoters from diverse parts of the world as well as indigenous investors, inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs and many government officials and agencies. It featured among others, vibrant exhibition booths, presentations covering ten important economic sectors

i. Agribusiness;
ii. Education, Training and Skills Development;
iii. Entertainment, Hospitality and Tourism;
iv. Extractive Industries;
v. Healthcare;
vi. Infrastructure and Real Estate;
vii. Manufacturing;
viii. Telecommunication, Technology and Innovations;

ix. Transportation; and Waste Management and Environmental Remediation.

The engaging proposals/pitching sessions by entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators ended with an informal Dinner with dignitaries in an ambiance of cultural entertainment.

The Summit was convened by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President (OSSAP) on Foreign Affairs and Diasporain collaboration with Nigeria Diaspora Alumni Network (NiDAN) and was supported by the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the specific goals of

· demonstrating that targeting the Diaspora is a highly effective and sustainable strategy for attracting inward investment into the emerging diversifying Nigerian economy

· Creating an ongoing sustainable annual platform for channelling reliable investment into the country

· Connecting Diaspora investors with potential sponsors, partners, collaborators and the government

· Business match making opportunities
· Showcasing the business and sponsorship opportunities in all the 36 States of Nigeria for Diaspora investment.

The Summit was declared open by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, represented by the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN GCON.

After a thorough analysis of presentations and contributions from participants, stakeholders and organizers the Summit concludes, resolves and declares as follows:

RESOLUTIONS / OBSERVATIONS:
1. This Summit is both timely and invaluable in appreciating the role of Diaspora in furthering the development of the nation.

2. Many nations have successfully leveraged Diaspora commitment to their countries of heritage to encourage investment of their financial resources, experiences and expertise in building their economies. Nigerian Diaspora are poised to become major drivers of the economy, chatting the path for private sector-led innovation and market-based solutions.

3. Nigerians in the Diaspora contribute more in remittances to the Nigerian economy than most other foreign aid (about 25% of Nigerian GDP). It is therefore important to create a formal non-partisan channel to harness the enormity of resources existing within the Nigerian Diaspora globally to transform the economic base of the nation.

4. Successful Nigerians in the Diaspora seat on the frontiers of technology, science and innovation and should be tapped to help guide the diversification of the economic base of the nation through consultancy and investments

5. The Diaspora laments at the challenge and difficulty of investing in Nigeria and implores all players and government stakeholders to improve the ease of doing business in Nigeria by generating data-driven indices and projections as well as creating insurance and contract transparency in the country.

6. The Federal Government of Nigeria’s Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council’s (PEBEC) initiative on the ease of doing business in Nigeria is a good step in the right direction if sustainably implemented

7. The Government should extend the same incentives available to foreign investors to its Diaspora investors who face the same international competition in their respective host countries; and facilitate matching them with reliable partners.

8. The government cannot afford to relent on the assiduous task of fighting against corruption as it remains a scourge that can derail progress of economic growth and social fabric.

9. The Federal Government of Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) provides for Diaspora investment and socio-economic engagement in Nigeria, such as the National Social Housing Programme, Foreign Currency Bonds, Medical Assistance Programmes and the proposed Diaspora Investment Trust Fund are good ideas that should be actively promoted among the Diaspora

10. The signing into law of the Diaspora Commission Act and the nomination of a passionate advocate of Diaspora affairs - Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa as its pioneer Chairman/Chief Executive Officer is a commendable step towards actualizing the goal of engaging with the Diaspora for national development and their self-fulfillment and actualization as Nigerians in the Diaspora.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
1. Institutionalize the Diaspora Investment Summit as an annual event.

2. Strengthen the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria by enacting policies that favour transparency and accountability while punishing corruption at all levels. This will further enhance the achievements of this Summit and attract additional investments from the Diaspora and other foreign investors.

3. Strict Adherence to business ethics and regulatory standards must be sustained and supported by all and sundry, including the Diaspora.

4. Commend the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe on his decision to setup a Diaspora Desks in the ministry and urge other ministries to do same.

5. Expedite the creation and staffing the Office of Facility Management domiciled in the Ministry of Works as promised by Honourable Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola.

6. Liaise further with the Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on a tax friendly environment for Diaspora Investors.

7. Engage further with EFCC on tackling fraudsters that attempt to dupe foreign investors coming to invest in Nigeria.

8. Engage the expertise of Diaspora in Commissions, National Committees to contribute to creating national blueprints for the development of Economic Sectors of the 21st Century such as the Bio-Economy, Computer and Cyber industries and precision agriculture among others.

9. Establish the Diaspora Commission - to be fully set up and adequately funded and empowered to achieve the goal of engaging the Diaspora for national development. This is imperative to show the world that the government truly valuesthe contribution of the Diaspora.

Dated this 14thday of December, 2018

Signed
Dr. Badewa Adejugbe-Williams
Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Nigeria Diaspora Alumni Network

Signed
Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa
Senior Special Assistant to the President On behalf of Organizers