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German-Nigerian Business Forum seeks to woo investors

November 22, 2023

With Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Nigerian investment minister in attendance, this year's summit sent a clear message: Africa's most populous nation is open for business.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu (center) on stage at the German-Nigerian Business Forum 2023 in Berlin
Nigerian President Bola Tinubu (center) was keen to boost investor confidence at the summitImage: Benjamin Restle/DW

This year's German-Nigerian Business summit saw scores of high-profile speakers, including Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, extol Nigeria's economic potentials.

President Tinubu, who gave a keynote talk opening the summit, was keen to boost confidence in his nation, stressing that Nigeria had transformed into a reliable business partner. 

While conceding that "it could be difficult in past to do business in Nigeria," Tinubu said "I want to appeal to you: forget the past."

"Any [investment] obstacle that you've experienced in the past, believe it, it's gone," the leader added. 

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu is seen at his swearing-in ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria
Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has played up his private sector experienceImage: Temilade Adelaja/REUTERS

Tinubu made a point of highlighting his move to scrap the country's fuel subsidy after taking office in May — a costly scheme that has been linked to corruption. The president concluded by expressly welcoming investment in his country, saying "I'm looking forward to having you in Nigeria, investing more and getting the highest return on your investments."

Nigeria: Untapped potential

Nigeria boasts the largest economy on the African continent. Last year, its GDP totaled just over $477 billion (€437 billion).

It is thought to possess about 37 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves and is Africa’s biggest oil exporter. Additionally, Nigeria holds an estimated 206.5 trillion cubic feet (5.91 trillion cubic meters) of proven natural gas reserves.

An aerial view of a Liquefied Natural Gas plant in Nigeria
Germany has struck a deal to secure Nigerian natural gas Image: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

Just this week, Germany struck a deal to begin importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Nigeria. Germany, after all, has scrambled to find new suppliers after weaning itself off Russian gas. 

Yet despite this promising news, so far, German companies remain hesitant about doing business in Nigeria. 

In 2021, direct German investment in Nigeria amounted to just $158 million.   

Assuaging hesitant investors

German companies still have concerns about corruption and political instability in the West African nation, concerns that Nigeria's Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Doris Uzoka-Anite was eager to dispel. 

In a bid to underscore Nigeria's credentials, Uzoka-Anite told conference attendees that her country was now in its "third decade of peaceful transition of democratic rule, premised on an unwavering commitment to our constitution and the sanctity of the rule of law."

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu pose for a photo prior to their meeting during the G20 Investment Summit
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (right) and Nigerian President Bola Tinubu (left) met at November's G20 Investment Summit in BerlinImage: picture alliance / ASSOCIATED PRESS

She also said Nigeria offers a multitude of investment opportunities including in pharmaceuticals, medical technologies, automotive development, infrastructure, the green economy, technology, mining and energy. As a result, she said, Nigeria had now positioned itself as an "investor's dream."

A new business climate?

On the sidelines of the summit, Debra Egerue of the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Nigeria told DW she thought Nigeria's "business environment is really changing."

"We have a new president and a new team, and from what we have seen, the president is focusing on a lot of reforms," she said.

Edited by: Rob Mudge

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