Investing In Nigeria

Courtesy of The Financial Times, a look at Nigeria:

With painful irony, oil-rich Nigeria is unable to supply its own population with electricity. The country ranked 178th of 185 economies on access to electricity for new businesses in the World Bank’s latest “Doing Business” publication.

Infrastructure is, not surprisingly, a key to the country’s future development, as an FT Special Report sets out.

Recurrent power outages have forced more than 90 per cent of industrial users in Nigeria to install their own (expensive) generators. So reforming the power sector is one of president Goodluck Jonathan’s top priority. His government has hired Canada’s Manitoba Hydro to manage the state-owned transmission network and privatisation plans are encouraging green energy investments.

But the privatisation process has stalled. Jonathan has flip-flopped, revoking a transmission management contract earlier this month before changing his mind again. The bidding for the six generation businesses and 11 distribution businesses has been likened to the privatisations in 1990s Russia as concessions have been given to local tycoons. But defenders of the process claim the partnership of local companies with know-how and foreign companies with expertise makes sense.

Nigeria’s road networks are equally inefficient. The 49km Lekki-Epe toll road is a model for the country – no potholes and efficient gas stations – but it is a rarity. The average worker spends up to five hours each day commuting and deliveries are unnecessary slow. Even the Lekki-Epe toll road faces problems as the government and concessionaire are at loggerheads and the introduction of tolls has sparked protest.

These problems of corruption and inefficiency extend beyond infrastructure. The banking industry was cleaned up with the Nigerian Stock Exchange suspending and delisting companies for poor compliance.

Now oil and gas is in the spotlight. Efficiency is low and criminals steal over 150,000 barrels per day every year. An investigation was ordered after an attempt to withdraw fuel subsidies sparked protests in January, tarnishing Jonathan’s reputation. It found that, between 2002 and 2011, billions of dollars of royalties went unpaid and gas has been sold at cut prices. The proposed solutions include simple records of production and Diezani Alison-Madueke’s Petroleum Industry Bill could clean up transparency and fiscal policy in the industry.

Private investors in Nigeria face the costs of infrastructure and corruption, plus security threats as the Muslim north and Christian south of Nigeria clash. But the opportunities remain. Rising consumer spending is drawing in retailers as a rising middle class warms to luxury brands, positional smartphones and imported beer in particular.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 at 5:52 pm and is filed under Nigeria.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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Wildcats & Black Sheep is a personal interest blog dedicated to the identification and evaluation of maverick investment opportunities arising in frontier - and, what some may consider to be, “rogue” or “black sheep” - markets around the world.

Focusing primarily on The New Seven Sisters - the largely state owned petroleum companies from the emerging world that have become key players in the oil & gas industry as identified by Carola Hoyos, Chief Energy Correspondent for The Financial Times - but spanning other nascent opportunities around the globe that may hold potential in the years ahead, Wildcats & Black Sheep is a place for the adventurous to contemplate & evaluate the emerging markets of tomorrow.