‘Stabilise naira, improve digital infrastructure’ — US advises Nigeria on economic growth


Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo, the United States deputy treasury
secretary, says President Joe Biden’s administration is willing to help Nigeria
in taking critical steps to sustain the foreign investments of Africa’s biggest


Adeyemo spoke on Monday at the Lagos Business School (LBS),
where he highlighted some of the steps needed for the type of growth that
creates economic opportunity for the Nigerian people.


Enase Odu Okonedo, vice chancellor of the Pan Atlantic
University (PAU) moderates a session with Adeyemo.


The US official said Nigeria needs to invest in digital
infrastructure, improve its macroeconomics as well and create a conducive
economic environment, to attract foreign investments.


“First, Nigeria needs a stable naira. Unifying Nigeria’s
foreign exchange rate will also create the kind of macroeconomic stability that
is essential to attracting foreign investment,” he said.


“We commend the difficult steps your government has already
taken to accomplish this goal. The path to unification is not an easy one as everyone
is experiencing, but going backwards would be even worse.


“Second, the government needs to articulate and implement a
credible fiscal strategy that will provide the resources to make critical


The agricultural sector remains Nigeria’s top employer.


“I recognise the decision to end fuel subsidies is hard for
many Nigerian households. But it was an important early step to create
resources that the government can use to invest in physical and digital
infrastructure, education, and a strong small business environment.


 “There is nowhere
this need is greater than the agricultural industry, which, despite the digital
revolution going on in Nigeria, remains Nigeria’s top employer.


“Its full potential, of course, is held back by issues like
access to fertilisers, limited use of new technology, access to water and land
and the availability of credit and high market entry costs.”



Speaking further, Adeyemo said Nigeria needs to root out
corruption and its perception in the business environment.


This, he said, would go a long way in removing fears from
potential investors.


The US official believes that creating economic opportunity
would require a government-wide drive to address these fears, “by shining a
light on corruption, holding people accountable, and taking meaningful steps to
improve the business climate”.


“Nigeria is a hotbed for digital entrepreneurs taking simple
steps by moving government functions online,” he said.


 “So Nigerians can
apply for business licenses and visas using their smartphones and computers
will help improve services productivity, and reduce opportunities for fees to
go to the pockets, rather than government coffers.”


Adeyemo said protecting the integrity of Nigeria’s financial
system was also imperative in sustaining economic growth.


 “The cowardly
kidnapper, corrupt official, and fraudster all are seeking to launder their
money,” he said.


“Taking steps to make your banking system more secure will
help reduce the ability of criminals, terrorists, and others to illicitly use the
Nigerian financial system.”


Adeyemo applauded the leadership of President Bola Tinubu
for the effort so far.


He added that the US government is committed to working with
the Financial Action Task Force to tackle money laundering and terrorist
financing in Nigeria.


“Our government stands ready to help work with them to take
these steps as quickly as possible,” he added.


He also said Biden’s administration believes deeply in the
importance of deepening the relationship with Nigeria.


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