Written evidence submitted by Peccavi Consulting Ltd (IRN0002)
Call For Evidence
The vision outlined in the Integrated Review presents the UK with an opportunity to reset its relationships with Africa in general and Nigeria in particular. Nigeria with its large and engaged British diaspora provides the British Government with a perfect medium to engage with Nigeria but also to build stronger relationships with its own ethnic minority populations.
What are the emerging opportunities for aid and investment in the science and technology sectors in Nigeria?: Opportunities in science and technology in Nigeria include Fintech in order to open access to finance (loans, banking, credit etc) for the large proportion of unbanked Nigerians, reduce the need for cash amongst the large grey and informal economy, Nigeria’s energy deficit can be addressed through mini and microgrids based on renewables such as solar, micro hydro, biogas etc. Collaborations with Nigerian academic and research institutions to incubation hubs solving common Nigerian problems. British expertise in reforestation and biotech could also be used to assist the Nigerian governments at State and Federal level to tackle flooding, deforestation, desertification and soil erosion. There is also a huge demand in Nigeria for quality tradesmen, an unglamorous but lucrative sector would be training Nigerian electricians, plumbers etc to British standards. The British government could sponsor and support programmes to develop vocational training schools. Waste management and recycling are also a sector in which Nigerians could benefit from collaboration with British academic and research institutes as well as businesses. Coastal and riverine transport is underdeveloped in Nigeria, opportunities to provide ship repair services as well as help reduce the cost of transport and the pressure on Nigeria’s poor roads by sponsoring investment in marine transport particularly along the great rivers and between the coastal cities. Programming and outsourcing are untapped markets in Nigeria, working with the British and Nigerian private sector to improve connectivity and open up markets could create a n opportunity for British firms to outsource some business processes, develop an IT and programming hub
How should, and is, the FCDO encourage investment in these sectors, including in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises? The FCDO can encourage investment in these sectors by working through Nigerian institutions (banks, universities etc) to provide access to finance. An untapped source of funding is the Nigerian diaspora, a British government backed scheme modelled on crowd funding investment platforms such as Crowdcube.com or Farmcrowdy which allows Nigerians in the diaspora invest in Nigerian start ups directly from the UK (and get their return on investment either in pounds in the UK or Naira in Nigeria) would not only direct funding to Nigerian SMEs, it would also formalise diaspora remittances. The UK could incentivise this by taking on some of the risk, or by providing matching funding for a certain period or creating an ISA type product allowing British Nigerian diaspora to invest in Nigeria free of British and Nigerian tax (up to a limit). Nigeria Diaspora Infrastructure Bonds could be developed using British financial institutions, guaranteed by the British and Nigerian governments and used to fill a gap in Nigerian infrastructure- the maintenance of existing infrastructure (roads, bridges, dams, electric grids, water pipes etc) providing Nigerian governments an alternative to Chinese and international loans.
What opportunities and challenges do the UK’s historic links with Nigeria pose when considering the future partnership between the two countries? There are several opportunities that exist, such as creating a British version of the US ACOA trade agreement, allowing Nigeria to sell a certain amount of agricultural and other products into the British market. This can be incentivised by a British government programme to assist Nigerian companies bring their products up to UK/ EU standards. There are opportunities for the UK to expand its current military assistance to Nigeria, by proposing to lead and fund a comprehensive defence review, increase training, develop and improve training for police as well as the military. Challenges remain the pervasive corruption, economic mismanagement, political incompetence and the security situation.
By what mechanisms could the UK government support trade and private sector development in Nigeria and stimulate investment? The UK could support a comprehensive programme to increase the ease of doing business at the State and Federal levels. Assist the Nigerian Ministry of Justice to set up specific business resolution courts/ tribunals to assist in resolving business disputes. Investment and support in the agricultural value chain working through and with local and international specialist organisations and NGOs, particularly in fruits, vegetables and livestock, aiming to reduce food miles, preserve products and assist local farmers to set up cooperatives and use international best practice for fertilisation, irrigation and pest control. The UK could also work with the Nigeria Stock Exchange to collaborate with the London Stock Exchange to develop a Nigerian version of the Alternative Investment Market focused particularly on solid minerals, in order to incentivise Nigerian entrepreneurs to exploit solid minerals. The British Government can also develop a pilot with some Nigerian states to assist them to responsibly license out mining concessions as joint ventures with British companies using international best practice
How should the FCDO take account of and mitigate potential inhibiting factors to investment (such as corruption, security, human rights abuses)? Corruption can be mitigated by the UK using unexplained wealth orders on Nigerians PEPs, setting up a special Nigerian anti-corruption unit with a global remit to seek out the proceeds of corruption and targeting areas favoured by Nigerian PEPs such as education, healthcare, property, financial services etc. Anything recovered should be placed into a special trust fund and used to support programmes in Nigeria. The UK should not shy away from publicly holding government and political figures to account for human rights abuses. This can be enhanced by providing training and assistance to civil society groups in gathering evidence that can be used in future corruption or war crime trials, supporting investigative journalism with grants, training and collaborations with the British media. The UK should seek to work with Nigerian authorities to set up, train and equip police and military units, conditional for funding should be the embedding of British or British trained observers (who could be drawn from the Nigerian diaspora) to monitor the effectiveness of training as well as compliance with local and international law.
Which states may be strategic partners and competitors in the UK’s policy toward Nigeria and how should the FCDO respond? In particular, how should the UK engage with the United States, China, the Commonwealth and the African Union? The UK should look to work with Nordic countries, South Korea and Japan, these countries have aid programmes in Nigeria and could provide access, funding and expertise or act as force multipliers. Within West Africa the UK should look to form close links with Ghana, Liberia, Gambia, Sierra Leone and possibly Senegal and create an informal trading bloc, granting these countries access to its markets. The UK should also look towards strengthening ECOWAS, in particular its peace keeping and conflict resolution mechanisms. The Commonwealth provides the UK with a readymade trade and influence bloc, immigration and trade are likely to be the best way to expand British influence. The UK should also look to improve relations with the AU, seeking to encourage the organisation to take a more robust approach to peace keeping and conflict resolution and taking a lead in driving the AUs African Standby Force, through training, providing non lethal aid and planning and training teams to get HQ and logistics elements activated. The UK should not seek to use Nigeria as a theatre for great party competition, with Russia, China or other powers. The UK will not be able to match China’s ‘no questions asked’ infrastructure investment or Russia’s sales of cheap weapons. All 3 powers are interested in stability in Nigeria and developing Nigerian markets.
About the submitter: My name is Chidi Nwaonu, I’m a British citizen who grew up and was educated in Nigeria. I’m an Engineer by training and I live and work in London but remain connected to Nigeria through regular visits (pre pandemic), family and diaspora networks. I am an Army Reservist and served in Afghanistan and Iraq and currently serve as a Staff Officer in a Specialist Unit.
About Peccavi Consulting Ltd (PCL): is set up as a risk management and defence consultancy focused on Sub Saharan Africa in general and Nigeria in particular. I (infrequently) write on the Vox Peccavi blog and (also infrequently) appear on British and African TV as a defence and security commentator in this regard.