President Umaru Yar'Adua visited London in mid-July and told British investors that his country was open for business. "Nigeria is more a gas country than oil, and as the government cleans up the environment for business, it is inviting investors across the board to come and participate in all sectors of the economy", he said. Below is the main part of his speech.
I would like briefly to explain what we have been doing in Nigeria, particularly in the past five years. We have been carrying out extensive reforms of the economy. We have reformed the financial banking sector, we have reformed the public service sector (this is in fact ongoing), and we have taken up governance issues.
We have also taken up procurement issues and public finance issues, and carried out extensive reforms. We have taken government (and we are still taking government) out of business. We have enacted legislation and regulations to ensure that government in Nigeria is repositioned to properly create an enabling environment for the private sector to be in the driving seat of the national economy. The government will perform regulatory functions to regulate competition and provide the necessary enabling environment and the required infrastructure for businesses to succeed. We have done this because we believe that without carrying out this restructuring, there is no way we can achieve and accomplish our objective of growing our national economy to the rate of between 10-13% that will enable us to become one of the largest 20 economies in the world by the year 2020.
To do this, we have carried out all the required standards, such that in Nigeria today, the private sector is greatly challenged; opportunities abound, the environment is correct, there are regulations and legislation to ensure just and fair competition. Everything is in place.
So we will require massive private investment to ensure the kind of transformation that will enable us to achieve the target of economic growth we need.
Now we have given priority to the power and energy sectors. We have carried out reforms in the power sector with respect to electricity. For instance, in the past all the electricity infrastructure and the utility company was 100% owned by government. We have broken the monopoly up, set up six generating companies, one transmission company, and 11 distribution companies.
The generating companies and the distribution companies will be privatised. It is only the...