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In a bid to attract more foreign investment, Nigeria’s government has introduced a new, faster visa application procedure that will allow executives traveling there on business to collect their visa within 48 hours of applying for it.
The West African country and former top oil producer on the continent suffered a double blow from oil international crude prices and militant attacks on infrastructure in the oil-rich Niger Delta, which led to a recession and desperate attempts to put the economy back on its feet. Last year, GDP shrank by 1.5 percent, which was the first contraction for the last 25 years.
Among the government’s efforts to overcome its troubles were intensive negotiations with the militants and Delta communities, which seem to have worked, for now. In addition to these, the government pledged $20 billion for a gas infrastructure project that would create thousands of jobs in the area. Earlier this week, Abuja also gave building contractors with unfinished projects in the Delta a 30-day ultimatum to resume construction of roads and other infrastructure or face prosecution.
Now, Nigeria is also seeking a diversification away from oil, which is another reason to want more business executives to be able to enter the country without hassle. The country’s Trade Minister Okechukwu Enelamah told CNN last week that he has plans to transform Nigeria from a raw materials exporter into a manufacturing nation. In this, the government will seek foreign assistance—from the UK, for one—which Enelamah hopes will help with industrialization.
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Besides the UK, Nigeria is also looking to the U.S. and China as major partners. In fact, the latter could take the place of the former as a top business partner if for some reason the U.S. goes back on $1 billion in financing commitments to the Nigerian power industry. This could happen if the draft 2018 budget is passed by Congress. The draft stipulates a 28-percent cut in the State Department’s budget, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, which has pledged the money for Nigeria.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.