Monday, May 20, 2024

Will Stevens: Infrastructure critical to driving inclusive, sustainable economic growth in Nigeria

When companies make decisions on where to do business around the world, they seek out those markets where the business environment is rules-based and predictable.

• May 1, 2024
Will Stevens
Will Stevens [Photo Credit: The Guardian Nigeria]

Good morning. My name is Will Stevens, and I am the U.S. Consul General in Lagos. I am delighted to join you virtually to celebrate the launch of this solar-powered cold storage facility in Enugu.

The project is being implemented by Manamuz Electric, a company run by Mandela Washington Fellow Uzo Mbamalu.

Uzo is one of 12,000 Nigerians who have participated in U.S. government exchange programs. It is so cool to see how Uzo used his 6-week exchange experience at the University of Nevada-Reno to forge connections that are now benefiting his local community.

Since he returned to Nigeria in 2018, he stayed in contact with the university’s college of business, leading them to provide technical and business advisory support to launch this project. This project was further supported by a grant from the U.S. Africa Development Foundation.

I would love to thank the project’s many public and private sector stakeholders, including the Enugu State Marketing Company, Enugu State Polytechnic Iwollo, and all the smallholder farmers, who have contributed to the success of this project.

It is estimated that Nigeria loses nearly $9 billion annually to post-harvest waste, due to inadequate cold storage, agro-processing, and transportation infrastructure. Solar-powered cold storage systems like the one we are commissioning today provide a reliable and cost-effective preservation option for agricultural stakeholders.

In Nigeria, as in other emerging economies, infrastructure is critical to driving inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development. Infrastructure connects workers to good jobs; allows businesses to grow and thrive, and creates opportunities for all segments of society, including underserved communities.
Meeting infrastructure needs across Nigeria requires a wide range of public and private financing options. No one country can go it alone and that is why the United States is invested in Nigeria’s economic success through private sector engagement coupled with targeted government support.

The solar-powered cold storage facility being commissioned today is just one example of how the U.S. government is partnering with federal and state government agencies and businesses to promote food security in Nigeria.

Last month, alongside our partners in the Nigerian agricultural value chain, we launched the U.S. government’s Global Food Security Strategy Country Plan for Nigeria that aims to boost agriculture productivity and drive agriculture-led economic growth.

In the last five years, the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, has invested almost $200 million in agriculture to improve food security and build household resilience across Nigeria.

Through the U.S. government’s Foreign Agricultural Service and African Development Foundation, we work with partners to develop new agricultural technologies, build trade capacity, and train farmers on how to use technology to improve their yields.

Investment in farming equipment, food processing, and cold chain storage solutions not only improve Nigeria’s infrastructure but also create opportunities for U.S. businesses interested in the Nigerian market.

This is a time of unprecedented opportunities. Taking full advantage of these opportunities requires not only natural resources and human capital, but also a stable, transparent, and business-friendly regulatory and investment climate.

When companies make decisions on where to do business around the world, they seek out those markets where the business environment is rules-based and predictable. We stand ready to partner with Nigeria to strengthen the institutions and regulatory frameworks that will make Nigeria an even more attractive place to do business.

Thanks again to Uzo and his partners for the invitation to speak today and congratulations on a successful launch. I look forward to seeing more Nigerian startups and businesses scale globally due to their partnership with the United States.

*Consul General Will Stevens’ virtual remarks at the launch of Manamuz Electric’s Aguobu Iwollo Refrigerated Aggregation Centre in Enugu.

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