The Chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA) and founder of Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu, has said that there huge investment opportunities in Nigeria with high returns for discerning investors who are able to tap available opportunity.
Elumelu, who spoke on “The Nigerian Business Environment, Prospects and Challenges,” described the country’s business environment as friendly.
“I have been investing in key sectors for quite some time. I am an investor in the financial services space and I am happy to be the Group Chairman of UBA.
“This is a business that was catalysed in Nigeria and today operates in 20 African countries servicing over 25 million customers, with over 1,000 branches across Africa.
“We have presence in London, Paris and the only money-making African bank in the United States. So, if the Nigerian investment environment is not hospitable, we would not be where we are today,” he said.
In addition, he disclosed that Heirs Holdings also has investment in power, a sector he described as critical in driving economic growth and development.
He expressed satisfaction over his investment in the country’s power sector, saying, “there is nowhere else you can get the type of returns on investments that you get in Nigeria, especially in some of these critical sectors like power.”
“In 2013, we invested in the power sector and at the end of that year we paid dividend. So, we do see opportunities here and we do have high returns on investment.
“We just invested in the Afam Power Plant and in the past few months we have been able to increase production by 241 per cent generation. This is the kind of experience we have investing in Nigeria,” he said.
Elumelu said: “We invested in the hospitality and real estate sector and it is doing quite well. Occupancy in the iconic Transcorp Hotels last week was over 100 percent and we were in Abuja last week to launch ‘Aura,’ the digital platform for accommodation, and it was quite difficult for some of my colleagues to get space in the hotel.
“That is the kind of experience you tend to have in Nigeria. We also invested in the oil and gas sector because we agree that gas is the next frontier.
“From these you can see that returns on investment is high and opportunities are there for serious-minded investors who don’t only see the negative side, but those who see opportunities to invest in Nigeria.”
Speaking about some of the challenges investors face, he stressed the need to tackle oil theft and other security challenges.
While narrating two of the challenges he had faced in his investment journey, the founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) said: “The first was when we wanted to make our first foray into the oil sector; we suffered and raised $2.5 billion and at some point we didn’t get all the authorisation we needed and we lost quite a lot of money.
“My advice on this is that we need to de-personalise these investment opportunities and focus on the impact the investments would make. That is how we should be thinking going forward.
“Also, in the oil and gas space, we do have serious security issue and the oil theft is very high and real. We have two transportation pipelines in the Niger Delta Area.”
Responding to a question on the TEF, he said: “My colleagues, family and I believe that at some point, the true legacy that defines all of us is how we help others to equally become successful.
“I have seen what poverty can do and I have also seen what economic opportunities can do for people.
I have been a beneficiary of luck and I felt at some point we should help to democratise luck and create opportunities for people and that was what led to the founding of the TEF.”