Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ), through an interactive engagement, rallied policy makers on the task of providing and regulating an enabling business environment to sustain and attract investments into the country.
The breakfast event held at the WheatBaker Hotel in Lagos, and attracted eggheads from the private and public sector.
Nigeria currently ranks 169 out of an index of 190 countries globally on the ease of doing business and 37th in Africa; this poor ranking has prompted the federal government to embark on specific reforms to make the country more attractive to investors.
Aishah Ahmad, Chairperson of WIMBIZ noted that it was critical to capture the blind-spots through policy decisions that would help businesses thrive on the long-term.
“Some metrics have started to improve, but government still has to move beyond removing bottlenecks to proactively orchestrating those decisions that will deliver the expectations of the private sector,” she said.
Addressing the issue of the private sector skepticism on government reform implementation Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, assured that the government was committed to improving the ease of doing business in the country.
She cited the recent mandate to provide 24hour service in the ports as an example of government’s seriousness.
“The mandate issued to all agencies of government at the ports to render 24hour services will result in enhanced synergy,” she said.
She revealed that in order to ensure transparency and speed in the exit and entry of goods, the NPA licensing process will be online in the next six weeks.
She also disclosed that the NPA and the Dangote Group and Flour Mills have agreed on a N1.8Billion deal to fully rehabilitate the Apapa-Wharf Road.
Addressing the issue of power, Damilola Ogunbiyi, Managing Director, Rural Electrification Agency, disclosed that policy makers where looking at innovative solutions of increasing power delivery through grid and off-grid alternatives, given that about 90million Nigerians have no grid access.
She said it was critical to prioritise the agri-business communities especially small-holder farmers to enable them carry out practices such as irrigation while allowing them to pay for power consumed after their harvest and sales.
She promised that policy makers would soon be able to significantly reduce the number of days it takes for new businesses to get grid access.
The panel session was moderated by Seyi Bickersteth, former Chairman of KPMG and had Taiwo Oyedele, Public Analyst and Tax expert, Partner at Pwc Nigeria; Bolaji Balogun, Chairman of Lafarge Group and Bola Onadele, Pioneer MD/CEO of FMDQ as panelists.