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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that with the several reforms instituted by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration covering critical sectors of the economy over the past four years, Nigeria is making steady progress on the path of prosperity.

Osinbajo spoke on Saturday in Lagos, while delivering a keynote address at the Redeemer’s Men Fellowship Conference, themed “Galvanised for Geometric Growth”.

The Vice President, while noting that much still needed to be done in the different sectors of the economy, restated that Nigeria had enormous potential which needed to be realised.

According to Osinbajo who referenced the recent US-based Newsweek magazine’s special cover edition which described Nigeria as the Black China and Africa’s first super-power, “despite our challenges, Nigeria is the ‘last major open market, and like China and India, its population and economic size will enable economies of scale and attract international investment.”

Osinbajo said reforms by the Federal Government had over the past few years, spurred progress and attracted investors’ interests across different sectors, comprising agriculture, technology, tourism and entertainment, manufacturing, among others.

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“Just this week, the Spur Group, an IT company from China indicated that it will be establishing a computer hardware manufacturing plant in Nigeria.

“In the course of last year, the Mara Group of Ashish Thakkar had also indicated that it will set up a manufacturing plant for Mara Phones in Nigeria.

“Kobo360, which was one of the start-ups in a group that I led to Silicon Valley in July 2018, aggregates end-to-end haulage operations and raised $30 million in a Series A round led by Goldman Sachs and Nigerian commercial banks.

“Using technology, Kobo360 has made it possible for providers of haulage services to find cargoes for their trailers on return journeys, in effect halving the cost of transporting goods,” the Vice President added.

He said the potential of the Nigerian economy had also been boosted by the Buhari administration through direct and indirect investments in agriculture, manufacturing, technology and creative industries.

According to Osinbajo, “the story of increased rice production in Nigeria is well known, with production of paddy rice in 2019 estimated at 7.3 million metric tonnes compared to about 5 million metric tonnes in 2015.

“A little noticed phenomenon taking place in agriculture is the use of technology to attract crowd funding into the sector. Given the huge interest in agriculture and the relative ease of investing through such platforms, we will see a huge increase in investment in agriculture and subsequent increases in agricultural output across the value chain.”

He said, in the manufacturing sector, all critical indices had indicated significant improvements between 2018 and 2019.

He said: “This positive outlook for the manufacturing sector can be seen from the Leventis Group which, for instance, continues to make substantial investments in the Nigerian manufacturing sector through its subsidiaries, the Nigerian Bottling Company and Beta Glass.

“The Nigerian Bottling Company will soon be commissioning its Asejire Plant, which has taken a substantial part of a recent $500 million investment in Nigeria, while Beta Glass which makes the bottles for the pharmaceutical sector and for beverages like Coca-Cola and Star Beer, has invested another $30 million to expand its furnace capacity.”

The technology sector, according to the vice president, “continues to hold out great promise.”

Citing recent industry reports, he said, “Nigerian start-ups attracted $122 million out of the $492 million in funding to the African start-up sector in 2019.

“Perhaps more compelling is the increasing use of e-payment channels within the economy. The value of Point of Sale (POS) transactions is reported to have reached over N3.2 trillion in 2019 as compared to N2.3 trillion in 2018, an increase of 38%, while the volume also increased by 153 million transactions to a total of 438 transactions in 2019.”

On infrastructure, Osinbajo disclosed that the Federal Government’s interventions through the various reforms would yield greater results.

Noting the efforts of the Buhari administration to address the country’s major infrastructure deficit, the Vice President said, “So, our focus in the last few years has been on investing in roads, rail, and power. We have a major road project going on in every state of the federation.

“Some of the road projects scheduled for substantial completion in 2020/2021 include: Dualisation of Suleja-Minna road, Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa/Bokani road, Nnewi-Oduma-Mpu (in Enugu)-Uburu (Ebonyi), Yenagoa-Okaki-Kolo-Nembe-Brass road, Bodo-Bonny road with a bridge across the Opobo channel, the rehabilitation and expansion of Lagos-Badagry expressway and, of course, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.”

He added that 19 other road projects measuring about 800 kilometres have been prioritised in 11 states across each of the six geo-political zones, which would be done by 10 local companies that have applied to join Dangote group and NLNG in the Investment Tax Credit Scheme of the Federal Government encouraging private sector investments in infrastructure.

On the new Finance Act 2019, Osinbajo said the law was government’s fiscal response to the issues of limited revenue sources and the need to improve the business environment, especially for small and medium businesses.

“The Act has two main purposes with extremely beneficial effects on the Nigerian economy. It addresses the issue of domestic revenue mobilisation on which Nigeria has often paraded quite a low record.

“However, even while achieving this objective for the public sector, the Finance Act is calibrated to improve the ease of doing business in Nigeria and actively foster private sector growth.”

The event was also attended among others, by the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, and the National Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Nigeria, Pastor Joseph Obayemi, President of the Fellowship.

Adesina, on his own, commended the Buhari administration for the achievements recorded in the agricultural sector, noting that the efforts of the Federal Government have revolutionised agriculture in the country.