U.S., UK envoys, Femi Otedola hold talks on economy
United States (U.S.) Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington and his United Kingdom (UK) counterpart, Mr. Paul Arkwright, have paid separate visits to Chairman of Forte Oil Plc, Mr. Femi Otedola, during which the parties held discussions on Nigeria’s economy and the role of businesses in the country.
They also held talks on how to explore partnership with international businesses to create more job opportunities for Nigerian youths.At the breakfast meeting with Otedola at his Ikoyi, Lagos residence, the U.S. ambassador commended the Nigerian energy magnate for his continuing investments in the country and for being a role model for other indigenous entrepreneurs.
The American envoy drew Otedola’s attention to Nigeria’s growing population, noting that the private sector has a critical role to play in creating opportunities for youths to be gainfully employed and in nation-building.This, Symington added, would help to address poverty in the country and rising insecurity due to the high rate of unemployment.
He, therefore, encouraged Otedola to explore partnership with U.S. firms interested in investing in solar power projects and exports.Otedola, who thanked the U.S. ambassador for the visit and expressed his commitment to working with international businesses to expand his footprint in the country, said: “Nigerians are very entrepreneurial and would latch on to any opportunity to start and grow a business. The problem, however, has been access to cheap and long-term capital, which remains an impediment.
“That is where we would like the U.S. to come in by encouraging private equity firms, venture capital and using U.S. export guarantees, among others, to support Nigerian businesses to become competitive and make good returns on their investments.”
Also, at a dinner, Arkwright, like his U.S. counterpart, congratulated Otedola for his investment drive in the country, saying businesses, such as Forte Oil, had become beacons for others to follow.
He assured Otedola that given the strong historic ties between Britain and Nigeria, the country remained an investment magnate for UK companies seeking to do business on the African continent.
He charged Otedola to collaborate with other Nigerian entrepreneurs and businesses to encourage the Federal Government in creating conducive environment for foreign and local businesses to thrive.
Otedola, who assured the British envoy that the Nigerian government has policies in place on the ease of doing business, said: “As you know, Nigeria recently improved its ranking on the World Bank’s ease of doing business index by moving up 24 places. But the Federal Government is not resting on its oars because it wants to improve on the current ranking.”