Atleast 2,000 foreign investors were reported to have been granted approval to set up their firms and no fewer than 12, 000 expatriates have also been handed work permits by the Federal Government within the last two years.
The statistics from the Federal Government revealed that since the establishment of the Ministry of Interior decades ago, over 126, 000 expatriates were handed work permits and 14,690 investors have been granted approval to establish their firm in any part of the country.
Announcing the statistics on Friday, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said that the statistics revealed that foreign investors have discovered the potentials in Nigeria which were responsible for the upsurge in the Expatriate Quota licences applications.
Aregbesola, who stated these while delivering his goodwill address titled, ‘That business may thrive in Kaduna’, on the second day of the 6th Edition of the Annual Kaduna Economic Investment, KADINVEST 6.0 in Kaduna, added that in spite of the complaints about the country’s economy, many foreign investors prefer Nigeria to their neighbours.
He hinted that the increase in the number of applications approved recently were due to prompt response of the staff and innovations attached to the processes of granting approval to investors and firms across the country.
According to the Minister, “The Ministry from inception till date has handled 14,690 companies and granted 126,893 quota licences to expatriates. However, from August 2019 till date we have registered more than 2,000 companies while over 12,000 expatriates have been given permits to work in Nigeria.
“We now handle applications with dispatch and will encourage any firm or organisation with a genuine need for expatriates to bring their applications. We shall accord it with the required courtesy. The Minister also reiterated the fact that Nigeria is still a good and profitable investment haven, even in the face of security challenges.
“In spite of the challenges we have faced, it might interest us to know that Nigeria is still an investor’s dream where there is abundant raw materials, highly skilled and affordable workforce and the largest market for goods and services in Africa. The return on investment has always been mouth-watering”, the Minister added.
While arguing that what had given the investors and expatriates an edge over Nigerians was the skills, he stated that there has been a paradigm shift from comparative advantage to competitiveness, knowledge and innovation, saying this will continue to drive business in the foreseeable future.
The Minister, meanwhile, asked Nigerian entrepreneurs to invest in knowledge, innovation and cutting edge technologies that have become the driver of the present global economy.
“Two and a half centuries down the line, the paradigm of production will be further altered spectacularly with advancement in knowledge altogether. Economic production in the immediate Industrial Revolution era had been built on the factors of nearness to raw materials and markets, among others. Therefore, the concept of comparative advantage is said to favour locales where these factors count higher than others. A petroleum refinery under this outlook is said to be best sited near oil deposit, just as automobile factories are recommended to be sited near iron ore deposits.
“But all that has changed. The new idea now is competitiveness. This is the concept of where, how and which firms can best produce the same product qualitatively and at the best price, discounting the old notion of comparative advantage. Under competitiveness, companies with natural advantages can be bested by the ones with innovation, superior technology and superior knowledge of production, marketing and transportation, factors that will combine to produce more qualitative goods at cheaper prices. This is actually a knowledge-driven economic system in which knowledge is the dominant factor in production.” Ogbeni Aregbesola stated.
However, the Minister noted the nexus between security and the economy, stating that security is a critical factor in economic production and assures that the government is addressing the challenges faced by the country.
“No economic activity can take place successfully in an insecure environment. This is where government comes in. As we all know, we have had some security challenges in the past, but we are overcoming them and hopefully, they will soon be a thing of the past, given the government renewed onslaught on the problem. The environment must be enabled for business.
“The Federal Government is deeply concerned about national security and will spare no effort to secure lives, property and every inch of our territory. A cardinal objective of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is to improve considerably the ease of doing business and minimise, if not eliminate altogether, any hindrance to doing business in Nigeria,” the Minister revealed.