Notwithstanding the challenges, there’s always a way in the market.
Nigeria will soon mark her 59th Independence Day anniversary, so it makes this topic a somewhat fitting one. The questions are: Why should you invest in Nigeria? Is Nigeria worth investing in?
Look from the inside
It’s easy to be discouraged by the negative tales commonly attributed to the country: Insecurity in various regions, unscrupulous behaviour by a small minority and so on.
The best way to take an objective view on deciding to invest in the country, is by paying a visit. If you happen to come in through the International Airport located in Lagos, you will most likely run into thousands of people bustling with energy.
Almost every Nigerian has a side hustle of some sort. There seems to be an almost never-ending drive to do better each day. And Nigeria has a large youthful population that’s global, yet connected to the culture and norms.
Walk around some parts of Lagos, and you might come across someone with Apple ear pods rocking to Burna Boy’s Ye, or a bunch of people disappointed in the limited Nigerian content on Netflix. And, in the remotest of regions, are supporters of various football clubs gathered in bars or viewing centres.
It’s honestly a never-ending busy environment.
As bountiful as the opportunities for investing in Nigeria are, they go hand in hand with the teething problems of a developing nation. Infrastructure, in some places, is almost non-existent. Bureaucracy in some lines of business can often be a dampener.
Community restiveness will crop up from time to time if you run a large labour-intensive business. All these add an extra layer to the cost of doing business in the country.
From the macro angle, shocks occur from time to time: foreign exchange volatility, a swift change in government policies and so on.
It almost feels as if one has to build an ecosystem (to borrow a lingo made popular by the country’s tech community). But once you are able to surmount these issues, the returns on investment more than compensate.
There are not many countries in Africa, with a large population of over 150 million. And so, even if you decide to face a niche market with the right unit economics, one can and will make a decent profit.
Where can one invest in?
There are several sectors that are worth investing in. This article will take a few.
The first is Agriculture. Agriculture accounts for a significant proportion of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Data from the National Bureau of Statistics show agriculture accounted for 22.82% or N7.4 trillion of Nigeria’s GDP in the second quarter of 2019.
A huge chunk of the agriculture practised in Nigeria is by subsistence farmers. Crop farmers rely mostly on the rain to farm, making production seasonal. There is very little value addition going on, in terms of processing. That’s an opportunity.
Nigeria’s large population, also means there is a ready market for agro-allied products. The average Nigerian tends to spend over 50% of their income on food. The country also spends billions of dollars annually importing various food items.
A large proportion of Nigeria’s population is made up of young people. About 3.4 of the population are under the age of 35. The median age of Nigeria’s population is 18 years.
The educational curriculum still has a few gaps in comparison with other countries across the world.
Government schools, at all levels, can’t take every potential student. Informal education is largely neglected and yet is essential.
You could decide to either run a school or an after school outfit, that polishes those that have already graduated. Many employers have to spend time retraining new staff before they begin work.
Nigerians love fashion and are arguably one of the best dressed in the world. The vibrant owambe culture also provides a ready market for fashion designers. (an owambe, by the way, is a social event).
Despite this, the market hasn’t been fully optimised. This is a clear investment opportunity.
A large proportion of businesses in the country are Small and Medium Scale. That is an investment opportunity waiting to be tapped. Can you help them with their accounting and taxes, training staff, logistics or partnering with them to access markets around the world? How can you support the SME industries to deliver?
The biggest tip for thriving in Nigeria is to build a deep understanding of how things work. Work with local partners where you can. Have a clear understanding of your market, and be nimble enough to adapt to the changes that occur. There will be many.
Obey all rules and regulations, as archaic as they might seem. You can always reach out to the regulators involved, for a review. Do not cut corners. It will come back to bite you.
Watch or jump in
At the end of the day, a decision to invest in Nigeria, or watch from the sidelines is purely up to you. A few have been burnt, no doubt. Yet others have found enormous success in the country, and continue to do so. You can choose to see things as half empty, or half full.
Oluwatosin Olaseinde is a chartered accountant with over 9 years of experience spanning across accounting, audit, financial management and taxation. She is the Founder/CEO of Money Africa, a platform that enhances financial literacy and wealth management coaching. Prior to Money Africa, Oluwatosin was a commercial finance manager at British American Tobacco, providing commercial & financial advice on capital investment and managing marketing investment budget in the 14 different markets across West Africa.