Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo, the United States deputy treasury secretary, says President Joe Biden’s administration is willing to help Nigeria in taking critical steps to sustain the foreign investments of Africa’s biggest economy.
Adeyemo spoke on Monday at the Lagos Business School (LBS), where he highlighted some of the steps needed for the type of growth that creates economic opportunity for the Nigerian people.
The US official said Nigeria needs to invest in digital infrastructure, improve its macroeconomics as well and create a conducive economic environment, to attract foreign investments.
“First, Nigeria needs a stable naira. Unifying Nigeria’s foreign exchange rate will also create the kind of macroeconomic stability that is essential to attracting foreign investment,” he said.
“We commend the difficult steps your government has already taken to accomplish this goal. The path to unification is not an easy one as everyone is experiencing, but going backwards would be even worse.
“Second, the government needs to articulate and implement a credible fiscal strategy that will provide the resources to make critical investments.
“I recognise the decision to end fuel subsidies is hard for many Nigerian households. But it was an important early step to create resources that the government can use to invest in physical and digital infrastructure, education, and a strong small business environment.
“There is nowhere this need is greater than the agricultural industry, which, despite the digital revolution going on in Nigeria, remains Nigeria’s top employer.
“Its full potential, of course, is held back by issues like access to fertilisers, limited use of new technology, access to water and land and the availability of credit and high market entry costs.”
UPROOTING CORRUPTION TO IMPROVING BUSINESS
Speaking further, Adeyemo said Nigeria needs to root out corruption and its perception in the business environment.
This, he said, would go a long way in removing fears from potential investors.
The US official believes that creating economic opportunity would require a government-wide drive to address these fears, “by shining a light on corruption, holding people accountable, and taking meaningful steps to improve the business climate”.
“Nigeria is a hotbed for digital entrepreneurs taking simple steps by moving government functions online,” he said.
“So Nigerians can apply for business licenses and visas using their smartphones and computers will help improve services productivity, and reduce opportunities for fees to go to the pockets, rather than government coffers.”
Adeyemo said protecting the integrity of Nigeria’s financial system was also imperative in sustaining economic growth.
“Taking steps to make your banking system more secure will help reduce the ability of criminals, terrorists, and others to illicitly use the Nigerian financial system.”
Adeyemo applauded the leadership of President Bola Tinubu for the effort so far.
“Our government stands ready to help work with them to take these steps as quickly as possible,” he added.
He also said Biden’s administration believes deeply in the importance of deepening the relationship with Nigeria