Inside Business Africa INSIDE BUSINESS AFRICA AUGUST 16 2017 1cdr - Page 23

I N S I D E B U S I N E S S A F R I C A Investment July 30 - August 13, 2017 "pioneer status" which g rants businesses three years tax free with a possibility of an extension for another two years. In other countries, for example Senegal, it is 10 years tax free. But right now the government is thinking of removing this incentive, which will mean less investment enters the country. On the agriculture sector, if the government can focus more on the infrastructure, it will be helpful. We have never been dependent on government policy, we have always looked at how we can operate without any support or any help from government. Mr. Edwin with some workers on tour of the refinery let's say he employs five people - this will add up to millions of jobs. How will the projects be financed? Due to the massive scale of the projects, we have a number of ways of financing them: local banks and the Central Bank of Nigeria will provide working capital finance. We shall bring our equity and the export credit agencies shall provide financing for the equipment - sugar mills, coal generation power plant, ethanol distillery, paddy parboiling equipment, rice milling, polishing & sorting equipment, rice husk power plant, silos, etc. Is the current business climate in Nigeria conducive to expansion? If the business climate in any country is very conducive for investment, that country will be an export dependent economy and not an import dependent economy. Investors will invest in a place where their investment is secure and generating higher returns. Coming back home, most of our investments are in Nigeria and sub- Saharan African countries with a lot of challenges. In the last two weeks alone, in four countries in which we have invested, there have been legislative changes for absolutely no sound reason except being highly hostile to investors. But we are already there, we can plan how to manage the situation. But the advantages for us in investing in Nigeria and other African countries are that we are better suited to manage these difficult situations. Again, a very fundamental law says the higher the risk, the higher the returns, so if we are confident of managing the risk, we also know the returns are better. Being an African company, we know the long term reality better, we know the challenges better and we are in a better position to manage them and we get better returns. What government policies would help to facilitate and speed up investment? In the manufacturing sector for example, the country has not come up with any major policy to attract investors. It has one policy, called the the advantages for us in investing in Nigeria and other African countries are that we are better suited to manage these difficult situations. What future plans do you have b e yo n d t h e s u g a r a n d r i c e operation? The other areas we are looking at are tomato and dairy milk production. Nigeria is the largest importer of tomato paste, especially from China. We are looking to grow tomatoes locally. Also, the company plans to have 50,000 cattle producing 500m litres of milk a year by 2019. We have done our feasibility studies on the two products. In the long term, another area in agriculture we are looking at is oil seeds; the country is importing about 80% of vegetable oil. A little palm kernel is home-grown but the bulk of it is imported - so we want to go into oil seed production and then have the vegetable oil products produced locally. 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