The Nigerian ambassador to Netherlands, Dr. Mrs. Nimota Akanbi, has been working hard to attract foreign investors to Nigeria. To achieve this she has led many great missions to Nigeria, the last being in March this year. Also, the Kwara State governor, Alhaji Abdul Fatah Ahmed has just concluded trade mission to the Netherlands to woo investors. In this interview she granted journalist, with Ambassador Akanbi spoke on what she is doing to attract foreign direct investment to Nigeria and on Gov. Ahmed's recent visit to the Netherlands Amina Alhassan Ahman was there for LEADERSHIP WEEKEND Excerpts.
In March this year you led a trade mission to Nigeria, which was the seventh since you were appointed the country’s ambassador to the Netherlands. What informed that?
In line with the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan, I have always, and will always be an advocate of the continuing and speedy development of our great country, as well as the fostering of unity and good relationship between Nigeria and the Royal Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The three tiers of government have reached the consensus that for Nigeria to realise in the next eight years, the vision of becoming one of the 20th largest economies of the world by 2020, foreign direct investment must be attracted into the critical sectors of the economy, including infrastructure, agriculture and power, to name a few.
Therefore, as the Nigerian ambassador here in the Netherlands, I have to work hard so that we can meet our target as a nation. In the last four years, I have made the attraction of investment and promotion of trade between Nigeria and the Netherlands, one of the central themes of my work.
Would you want to elaborate on these trade missions?
I have undertaken several trade missions to Nigeria with Dutch investors and hosted two investment forums in Netherlands. In collaboration with Netherlands Africa Business Council (NABC), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we undertook a trade mission to Nigeria. I am glad to say that the mission was quite successful beyond our imagination.
Contacts have been established between businessmen of the two countries in the construction industry. Again, I am glad to inform you that companies are scheduled to participate in Nigeria’s number one building construction event, that is, construction industry exhibition in June this year.
The Kwara State governor, Alhaji Abdul Fatah Ahmed has just concluded a trade mission to the Netherlands; can you give us an insight into what informed the visit?
You are right; one of the events scheduled during the trade mission to Nigeria in March was meeting state governors. Due to time constraint and other exigencies, the meetings could not hold. Therefore, the just concluded trade mission by the Kwara State governor provided an opportunity for him to meet those investors who were in Nigeria in March and others who intend to go to Nigeria in due course.
His visit to the Netherlands was successful in every aspect. Shortly after his arrival, there was a presentation on housing by Omar Finance. The governor also met with Simon Smith, the director- general, International Affairs of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. There was another presentation by the chief executive officer of Trade for Profit.
It might interest you to know that the Kwara State government wants investors in agriculture, energy and other critical sectors of the economy.
There were many presentations on agriculture, energy and other sectors of the economy by Dutch investors who also indicated their interest to invest in Kwara State. For instance, there was a demonstration on solar power by Libra Energy, which the governor said could serve as a backup in critical sectors like health and food processing companies. There was also a very important business meeting with DELTAS on water management and flood control.
I must not forget to tell you that the governor was also at NABC Africa Business Club where presentations were made and where the governors interacted with more Dutch investors.
What will an average Kwaran benefit from the governor’s visit?
A lot. As I said earlier, some of the Dutch investors have indicated their interest to invest in Kwara State. They share in the vision of the governor. The visit will attract these investors to the state, which means more jobs for the people and better standard of living. I am particularly happy because some companies have indicated their interest in agriculture, which is very dear to Governor Ahmed.
We have to give it to Governor Ahmed because his record since assuming office last year has been very impressive.
He has a clear direction of what he wants to do for the state. Let me give you another example. The Kwara State government has entered into a N70billion rice joint venture with Valsolar of Spain. The project gave birth to a joint venture company, Valsolar- Kwara Company Limited now incorporated by the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria (CAC.
The rice project under the company would cultivate 20,000 hectres of land, 5,000 hectres in each of the five locations per annum over the next four years.
The Netherlands is well known for agriculture and water management skills. By this trade mission, Kwara State stands to gain and tap from the vast and deep experience of the Netherlands in the agricultural sector.
What should Nigerians expect from the recent visit of the Dutch investors to the country?
They should expect foreign direct investment. The relationship between Netherlands and Nigeria is very strong and I am optimistic that it would continue to wax stronger.
You were said to have donated trophies and return tickets to the Netherlands for best students in English and Mathematics in Kwara State public Schools, why did you take such step?
Apart from my love for education, it is also important that we all key into the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan. He is working hard to transform the education sector, therefore, we should all join him in that great task.
The donations were my little way of encouraging students in public schools and a way of supporting the transformation agenda of the president and the education reforms of the Kwara State government.
Nigeria has great potentials. We should all join the government in getting the best out of these potentials.