Will you, as a Nigerian living abroad invest in infrastructure development of your home country? If things go according to plan, the country investment ministry will soon roll out investment policy that will allow Nigerians living abroad to fiscally invest in Nigeria.
The message? Nigeria requires your patriotism — in cash.
Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga earlier in the week hinted that one of his short term objectives with the newly created ministry, saddle with an enviable mission to facilitate much needed local and foreign investment into Nigeria, is the establishment of a Diaspora Fund to help boost the country’s growing economy.
At a press briefing in Lagos, earlier in week, where the minister made known his 4 year plans, he remarked that considering the amount Nigerian diaspora remitted back to the country — largely to family members — annually, the economy stand more to benefit if Nigerians are encourage to do the same formally.
“We have so many Nigerians in the Diaspora. The economies of many countries were built based on investments from people living abroad. We are in the process of structuring a fund, which we hope to put in place sometime in September when all the approvals are in place. That fund will be targeting those Nigerians in the Diaspora.”
“They will come in, bring their money and invest. According to the World Bank, in 2009, about $18.6billion was remitted to this country by Nigerians in the Diaspora. If we take half of that, and channel it the right way into the country, we will have enough capital to invest in this country. That is just focusing only on what you already have,” major Nigerian dailies reported.
Latest World Bank figure (2010) shows that Nigeria is the 6th largest recipient of remittances in the world, behind India, China, Mexico, Philippines and Bangladesh. In 2010, Nigerians living abroad remitted more than $10 billion back home — not including money transfer that not formally accounted for. Globally, the WB pecks the value of remittance flow at $440 billion.
Considering the volume of remittances flowing to developing nations, diaspora bonds (diaspora fund) has gained significance popularity as potential source of capital for financing infrastructure and development projects. Israel (from 1951) and India (from 1991) are two notable examples of countries that have successfully engage their citizens through issuance of diaspora bonds. Both countries have since raised more than US$40billion, said Sonia Plaza and Dilip Ratha, Editor of World Bank’s Diaspora for Development in Africa.
Diaspora fund is the key to short term investment drive needed to address Nigeria shabby infrastructure, too inferior to support the country’s economic ambition. This is even more important as potential investors from Europe and America are overwhelmed by unflattering debt crisis that continued to hunt their respective economies.
But the Nigerian government will have to do more to persuade skeptic citizens, who remains doubtful of government ingenuity and transparency when its comes to managing the peoples wealth.
With the perception of high corruption among government officials, weak justice system and lack of continuity in government policies, the minister might be forced to do more than just being a policy maker, but a believable marketer. Many Nigerians living outside the country, largely in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada could still recall how they lost theirs savings, worth millions dollar to failed banks of the 90‘s.
The diaspora fund is plan to be floated in September, 2011.
Yemi Ifegbuyi, NAL’s executive editor contributed to this report.