One of the foremost goals in the change mantra of President Muhammadu Buhari has been the acceleration of the country’s socio-economic development, through diversification of the economy, reaching out to potential foreign investors, and forging networks and collaborations that will help propel the country forward.

To complement the efforts of the Federal Government of Nigeria in the realisation of the Strategic Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017 – 2020, the Nigerian Embassy, Rome, under the leadership of Amb. Yusuf Jonga Hinna and in collaboration with National Union of Nigerian Associations in Italy and Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation, Italy, organized the Nigeria-Italy Business & Investment Forum Rome, 2018.

The two-day event, which held between November 24th and 25th, 2018, took place in the beautiful ambiance of Ergife Palace Hotel, Via Aurelia, Rome. Experts and stakeholders from selected fields gathered here, to discuss opportunities, challenges, and latest developments between Nigeria and Italy. Themed “Expanding Investment and Trade between Nigeria and Italy”, the forum by enabling the exchange of information and establishment of business contacts, afforded participants the opportunity to highlight the prospects and incentives open to investors in Nigeria and Italy.

In attendance was a good representation of both countries with over 300 business representatives from the private and public sectors. The Italian side had among a host of Italian companies, the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation, Italy, Amb. Guiseppe Mistretta, the representative of the Trade Ministry, Mr Quinto Protti, the President of COFIT Industrial, Mr. Giovanni Ottati, the M.D./C.E.O. International Development Centre, Italy, Mr. Fabrizzio Cardello, and a distinguished senator of the Italian Republic, Senator Tony Iwobi.

On the Nigerian side were Chief Executive Officers of Industries, representatives of the private sector and representatives of the NIPC, NDDC, NEPZA, Raw Materials & Research Dev. Council, Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment, Lekki Free Zone Dev. Company, and Abuja Chamber of Commerce.

Also in attendance were Nigerian Ambassador to Switzerland, Amb. Baba Madugu, Nigerian Ambassador to the Holy See, Amb. Godwin George Umo, Nigerian Ambassador to France, Amb. Modupe Irele, Nigerian Ambassador to Portugal, Amb. Ngozi Ukeje, Senator Adawari Michael-Pepple, a distinguished Nigerian senator of the 4th National Assembly.

The Nigerian Ambassador to Rome, Amb. Yusuf Jonga Hinna in his opening remarks emphasized the need for both countries to explore mutual opportunities available for national growth and development, elucidating the assured benefits of investing in Nigeria. According to the Ambassador, “This Forum provides a strong platform for policy makers, business leaders and captains of industry from both countries to share ideas, discuss opportunities and build a mutually beneficial consensus on trade and investments…The great economic opportunities, abundant human and natural resources, considerate labour and the relative high economic growth make Nigeria a fertile ground for investment. Another benefit of operating in Nigeria is that, it gives the investor an unhindered access to markets of the 15 member countries of the ECOWAS sub region, within the framework of existing free movement of people, goods and services.”

Subsequently, there were presentations from various distinguished speakers and corporate organizations followed by exhibitions, B2B networking and panel discussions with panelists who shared their experiences on doing business in Nigeria. Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria was the focus of the panel discussion of the Business Forum and in the light of this, those policies of the Nigerian Government aimed at further diversifying the economy, while simplifying the processes for investing in Nigeria were amply impressed.

The two-day Business and Investment Forum capped off with a Gala/Awards Evening. Awards were given for six categories and corporate organizations and executives from both countries were recognized and honoured for various outstanding achievements in business and for contributing to their community through an established social impact.

To all intents and purposes, the Nigeria-Italy Business & Investment Forum ended on a successful note. This gathering of investors, businessmen and women, and representatives of governments from Nigeria and Italy made it possible for NIBIF participants to learn about investment opportunities in the two countries thereby, undeniably encouraging further development of economic connectivity and collaboration between Nigeria and Italy.

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