Possibly the only mark of distinction Apapa Port at present has is that its name can be read from left to right or from right to left. Nothing much else makes it stand out – positively, that is. The negative aspects are quite overwhelming. As a port, it is dysfunctional because, today, it is quite simply in the wrong place: It is captured by the city on its landside and, therefore, has no functioning, adequate evacuation route. The dual carriageway as is, to the extent that it is passable – given its wretched state (the black-top in places has so many pot holes as to resemble a honeycomb) – leads traffic northwards in order to then plough all the container-bearing lorries and petrol tankers into the daily East-West traffic.

To make things worse, this is the case not because of a lack of attention, but despite there having been a Presidential Task Team now in place for over a year dedicated to solving the problems. This is despite all sorts of pre-election promises, flurries of proclamations and official site visits. This is despite having the Minister of Works (a Lagosian, and former governor of the state), the Minister of Transport, and the Vice President involved, not to mention the Dangote Group. So, what is going wrong or why can’t things be put right?

The cost of the Apapa gridlock

Let us start by addressing the cost of the constant gridlock, so that we all appreciate the issues and the sheer scale of the problem becomes apparent. Most recently, the National President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents complained that the cost of doing business at the Lagos ports has increased by 500 percent as a result of the intractable Apapa gridlock.[i] That is disastrous in an economic situation as dire as that in which Nigeria currently finds itself post-oil-price-crunch and COVID-crash. In case the cost is considered improbably high,  MoverDB, the online platform that compares the costs of international shipping and forwarding, computes in its analysis of overseas cargo and freight expenses that the cost of shipping both 20-foot and 40-foot containers to Lagos ports from New York is the most expensive in the world![ii] As the table below shows, shipping from Cape Town to the New York costs half the price.

Indeed, it is four times more expensive to ship goods from the European Union to Nigeria, compared to other African countries like Ghana and South Africa.[iii] If that were not bad enough, Dynamar B.V., the Dutch marine information experts, in its recent in-depth study of ports in West Africa, believes that the economic consequences of the congestion now exceed US$55 million daily, and the situation has increased the cost of inland connections (2020).[iv] If we take  the official exchange rate of N384 to the US Dollar, and an average year as 360 days, the economic impact is N 7.603 trillion. By way of comparison: The adjusted Federal Government Budget as passed by the Senate for 2020 is N 10.805 trillion. In other words, the economic impact is thus on a par with more or less 70 percent of the budget. Or in relation to another benchmark: According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 2019 GDP ran at N 19.53 trillion – the economic impact of the Apapa gridlock is the equivalent of 36% of Nigeria’s GDP before it fell prey to the double whammy of oil price drop and COVID-19, and is over three times the size of the N 2.3 trillion stimulus package the Federal government has stated it will inject into the economy.

There is only one possible conclusion in light of these numbers: The Apapa gridlock is indeed an economic disaster.

The chronology of disastrous disaster relief

Yet the problem is not new, and its well known. Back in 2018 alarm bells were ringing: On 19 July, State Commissioner of Police, Mr Imohimi Edgal said that the Lagos State Police Command and other relevant agencies are to begin ‘Operation Restore Sanity’ on Friday to free Apapa of gridlock, telling newsmen the Apapa gridlock was a “national disaster’’. The problem which gave rise to the sorry state of roads linking the ports is not limited to mere blocking of roads or activities of tank-farms with no holding bays for trucks.[v]

The news reached Abuja and on 2 August 2018, Minister of Transport Amaechi, who is lord over the ports, stepped in to the fray. He visited then Governor Ambode – and revealed that work on the Apapa corridor of the Lagos-Ibadan Rail project would commence the following week. A typical case of closing the stable door after the horse had bolted. He proudly declared “What we are trying to do there is to get a good road to evacuate cargos, but it would be faster with the rail. So, while we are working hard to ensure that the rail is delivered by this year ending, the Federal Government has also awarded the contract to deal with the road from Apapa and Tin Can to enable us to evacuate cargos freely which is an addition to the rail.” The rail project was awarded to China’s CCECC and was not delivered by year-end 2018.[vi]

Eight months lapsed until, just prior to inauguration day, namely on 24 May 2019 Vice President Osinbajo gave the Presidential Task Force two more weeks to clear the traffic. “The task force which commenced its assignment on May 24 had up to June 7 to complete the assignment but is now expected to present a formal report at the end of its extended mandate on June 24.”[vii] No doubt not wanting to be outdone by Abuja and in an effort to outshine his predecessor, on 4 June 2019

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu weighed in, vowing to end the Apapa gridlock within 60 days of his administration. This “coincided with a presidential order to truck and tanker drivers who parked their vehicles on all access roads and bridges to the Apapa ports and environs to vacate within 72 hours.”[viii]

On 16 August, 2019, over six months after his Minister had promised the port rail link would be in place, the Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), disclosed the December deadline in response to stakeholders’ calls for proper integration of rails to ports nationwide.[ix] And another 10 months passed before, on 12 June 2020, Lagos District Manager of NRC, Jerry Oche, said: “A train is made up of 19 wagons and each of the wagons can take one 40-feet or two 20-feet containers. So, if we are doing 40-feet, that is 19 trucks off the road and if it is 20-feet, that is 38 trucks off the road per trip. We are starting with two trips per day and we hope to increase it in no distant time.”[x] One might be forgiven saying that such a rail service is firstly a drop in the ocean and secondly hardly likely to be cost-effective.

Another two months lapsed before, on 30 August 2020 the press reported that “ongoing reconstruction work on Creek Road and Liverpool Road in Apapa, Lagos, may have compelled the Presidential Task Force on Apapa gridlock to force the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to temporarily open the Tin Can Island truck transit park to ease the perennial gridlock along the port access road. It was gathered that the presidential task force managing the Apapa gridlock has directed that the transit park be opened to take trucks off the roads, though the park is yet to be completed and officially handed over to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). The truck park has been under construction for more than ten years. The project has, however, suffered delay despite repeated assurances by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works, and Housing that it would be completed in April 2019.’’[xi]

The price of the lack of a solution

What is at stake? Lagos’s ports handle about 80 percent of all shipping traffic. And the problem is not just outside their gates, but inside them. The difficulties include:

  • Failure by shipping firms to provide holding bays for empty containers. This is responsible for ports’ congestion, operators have said.[xii]
  • Existing terminals are not used at full capacity[xiii] Apapa runs at 82 percent, Tin Can Island at 44 percent.
  • Low port capacity utilisation: Only 38 and 40 percent of installed stevedoring and other port-related capacities are deployed regularly at dockyards and approximately 40 percent of businesses located around the port communities have either relocated to other areas, or have scaled down [xiv][xv]
  • The maritime sector’s contribution to GDP in Nigeria is a minimal 0.05 percent.[xvi]
  • The maritime ports sector currently employs about 35,000 Nigerians. This is low when compared to South Africa where maritime and allied sectors currently provide about 700,000 direct and indirect jobs.[xvii]
  • And last but not least, the Nigerian economy is currently losing about N600bn in customs revenue, an estimated US$10bn in non-oil exports and about N 2.5 trillion in corporate revenue in the ports industry on an annual basis according to the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and other members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) in 2018.[xviii]

Solutions in sight?

Does it surprise anyone that Apapa Port, Lagos State, has lost its status as West Africa’s leading and busiest container port to Lome Port in neighbouring Republic of Togo? Data from Dynamar reveals that Lome Port upstaged the Lagos facility largely as a result of wide-ranging implemented reforms, as well as container traffic. Consequently, the port’s earnings have grown more than threefold since 2013.[xix].

Given such a massive hit to the economy, surely one of the first things that a clear-thinking Federal government would be doing is solving the Apapa gridlock as quickly as possible and not letting first weeks, then months, then years slip by. Such delays are tantamount to gross negligence. Today, admittedly, Apapa Port is (like Lagos Airport) simply in the wrong place – unless you reactivate the rail network big time that is. The geography is always going to be a challenge if you try and funnel the containers out by road. A few years ago, one proposal was to route road haulage toward Badagry and then up a new outer ring road heading for Ijegun and then Ota. The proposal was not taken up because of the cost. In light of what the economy is losing each day, that cost appears insignificant. Admittedly, even such a silver bullet might not have worked, because given the speed at which Lagos is growing and the sloth’s pace at which right-of-way issues get resolved, by the time such a proposal would have been realized, with all the pile-driving required across the in part marshy terrain, what was conceived as an ‘outer’ ring might well have become ‘a second inner ring’ running parallel to the Apapa-Oworonshoki Expressway – and, therefore, potentially not an expressway at all.

Be that as it may, despite the government being cash-strapped, the erstwhile cherished government cash cow, the National Ports Authority (based at Marina opposite Apapa and thus in full view of the problem), is forgoing revenue by the day. The underlying reason for this financial turpitude seems to be a mixture of two factors. Firstly, the two ministries involved are acting to type and therefore as silos: The Ministry of Transport is focusing on trophy rail projects and not on port efficiency, cargo evacuation, etc. And the Ministry of Works is busy with Federal roads elsewhere. Secondly, and perhaps even more worryingly, there seems to be a complete absence of any integrated forward planning. (One consequence is that another quango, the Presidential Task Force, has long since mutated into a permanent institution like the erstwhile task force on power.)

The same combination of factors already threatens to ensure that the new deep-sea port in Lekki, once operational, will face similar issues. Surely the Chinese PPP partners, who may be hoping to take over ownership should there be any default on repayments, are aware of the difficulties and assume this will also be a reason for default and for them to claim ownership. Remember, that the Chinese Habour Engineering Company, who is the main player in the Lekki Deep Sea Port and has already nominated the CEO for the project company, has previously claimed a piece of the sovereign territory of Sir Lanka as its own in the form of the seaport it built there – after the Sri Lankans had to default on payment. The Lekki-Epe Expressway is in part almost impassable and given that it is not even dualized just down the road from the Free Trade Zone the potential for congestion is already firmly in place.

The net result of such institutional torpidity is that when the country can least afford to lose money and is searching frantically for internally generated revenue, it is seemingly quite oblivious to the single greatest source of such: Apapa. And consequently, tous ca change mais tous c’est la meme chose: Members of the task force come and go. While the hapless residents of Lagos State suffer from the permanent traffic congestion and gag on diesel fumes of the trucks, the Nigerian economy gags on the astronomical losses And even when you think you have escaped the traffic snarl, a peek in your rear-view mirror of the chaos still reads Apapa correctly. It is surreal.

[i] https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2020/07/31/apapa-gridlock-customs-agents-petition-fg-over-500-increase-in-costs/

[ii] https://moverdb.com/freight-costs-usa/

[iii] https://www.sbmintel.com/2020/03/chart-of-the-week-comparison-of-shipping-costs/

[iv] https://guardian.ng/business-services/nigeria-loses-55-million-daily-to-port-congestion/

[v] https://punchng.com/apapa-gridlock-police-others-begin-operation-restore-sanity-friday/

[vi] https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/08/amaechi-visits-ambode-says-apapa-ports-phase-of-lagos-ibadan-rail-project-takes-off-next-week/

[vii] http://saharareporters.com/2019/06/14/apapa-gridlock-osinbajo-gives-presidential-task-force-two-more-weeks-clear-traffic

[viii] https://allafrica.com/stories/201906040242.html

[ix] https://guardian.ng/features/fresh-hope-for-apapa-as-fg-links-rail-to-port-by-december/

[x] https://allafrica.com/stories/202006120065.html

[xi] https://www.autoreportng.com/2020/08/apapa-gridlock-presidential-task-force.html

[xii] https://thenationonlineng.net/npa-warns-shipping-firms-over-empty-containers/

[xiii] https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xBCYjNr190M-jQSvueE3pqlTFwgJqGYO/view

[xiv] https://www.portstrategy.com/news101/world/africa/inefficiency-and-corruption-in-nigerian-ports

[xv] https://www.proshareng.com/news/Doing-Business-in-Nigeria/Port-Reforms–Why-Nigerian-Ports-Lose-Mo/47340#

[xvi] https://www.tralac.org/documents/news/2287-costs-of-maritime-port-challenges-in-nigeria-lcci-september-2018/file.html

[xvii] https://www.tralac.org/documents/news/2287-costs-of-maritime-port-challenges-in-nigeria-lcci-september-2018/file.html

[xix] https://guardian.ng/sunday-magazine/inefficiency-high-charges-infrastructure-dearth-de-marketing-nigerian-ports/ ; needless to say, the border closure impacted on that growth.

Image by Anja from Pixabay

Clear Disconnect between Electricity Industry and Nigerian Economy

As any economist or industrialist will tell you, electricity is a key enabler of the transformation of goods. Most transformation of goods and productive activities cannot take place without energy, and electricity is ranked as the main form of energy. The positive relationship between energy and economic growth is a given. There is ample evidence to this effect – a recent study of 10 Latin American countries over a 36-year period showed that for every 1% in energy consumption, there is 0.59% increase in GDP. What, however, is not unambiguous is what is cause and what is effect? While the preponderance of empirical evidence establishes a unidirectional run from energy consumption to economic growth, some countries exhibit the converse. Nigeria is one of those. The obvious conclusion must be: Electricity has crippled the Nigerian economy. Not because of the erratic and inadequate nature of electricity supply but the fact that the main sectors that dominate the Nigeria economy – agriculture, manufacturing and services – are rarely the focus of electricity industry supplies. Put differently: The national grid to which we dedicate large proportions of national resources to rehabilitating first and foremost serves residential customers and then only those who are close to the distribution lines.

Myriad of Problems

This is a problem that policymakers have consistently eschewed. Even if we manage to increase power generation and distribution to 6,000, 7,000 or even 10,000MW, the effect on the economy can be expected to be negligible. The main reason for this is not complicated: Usually, industrial and commercial consumption form the hub of any electricity grid. In Nigeria, however, the grid has metamorphosed into a network serving primarily domestic consumption. This transformation was largely brought about by poor electricity services as factories and industries have suffered under the weight of irregular power supplies, very high prices relative to cost of service and as a result either closed down or sought alternative, reliable supply sources, usually investing significantly in own-generation. , However, it would be misleading to focus on poor power supply as the sole culprit. There are other issues and challenges ranging from the lack of other critical infrastructure and transportation, the absence of a supporting national industrial development plan, inconducive macroeconomic conditions, lack of economic goals etc., all of which are factors relevant to explaining the parlous state of the Nigeria economy.

That said, there are most definitely operational and systemic issues that come within the ambit of the electricity supply sector and have hobbled its ability to help drive economic growth. These include a lack of knowledge of the country’s demand and power requirements (believe it or not, the operations and development of the sector are based on guesstimates and not on any rigorous demand study), high technical and commercial losses, the misalignment of constituent sectors, the narrow choice of generation technologies, etc. Moreover, we should not forget the regulatory issues such as the flawed tariff methodology that consistently causes prices to diverge from an efficient cost-of-service delivery, and wrong-headed policy or practice of gas industry placing the power industry further down the pecking order. Or the simple fact that generating companies pay for their gas and purchases of equipment in dollars but are paid in Naira for electricity supplied and consumed.

From the above, it follows that the poor electricity supply has blighted the socio-economic landscape. Yet, if fundamental changes are not made to redirect the role electricity should play in promoting economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation it looks set to continue to wreak havoc. At present, the Nigerian electricity supply industry (NESI) functions like a disguised version of the old subsidy on petrol at the pump. The government is busy subsidizing residential electricity users rather than focusing on the economy. For manufacturing and agriculture, NESI has long since become our Nessie (the elusive monster of Loch Ness) – given that it has been a long time since they last experienced adequate and reliable electricity. Yet the government ploughs over half a billion dollars just into covering NBET’s bills each year and is about to use a similar amount for the Presidential Power Initiative.

We Need to Create Prosperity and Jobs Urgently to Address Socioeconomic Problems

This being where we are today, we should endeavour to make sure this is not where we remain. Central to this is the need for inclusive economic growth. Why inclusive? The growth the economy posted between 2000 and 2015 did not create jobs, and that is why despite an increase in national GDP, the incidence of poverty increased substantially. Indeed, with the recessions since then, Nigeria has emerged as the “Capital of Poverty” in the world, and unemployment has risen at an alarming rate especially among the youth.

What is overly obvious is that a change of approach in addressing the problem is required. As things stand without focusing on how to generate prosperity and employment to improve the welfare of Nigerians, more people will fall into poverty with all the attendant dire social consequences. The latest releases on unemployment and inflation – and they shockingly stand at 27.1 percent and 12.82 percent, respectively – are sad testimonies to this reality. According to the latest NBS unemployment report, one in every two Nigerians in the country’s labour force is either unemployed or underemployed. At the same time, updated data from the World Economic Forum shows that Nigerians spend more on food than any other country in the world. Food takes up an astonishing 58.9 percent of Nigerians’ income. Talk about a disconnect. These statistics are grim as inflation and weak economy continue to erode household income.

Creating productivity and jobs will require improving productivity and expanding the economy’s productive base. Electricity has a crucial role to play here in the growth of the key sectors that will drive the growth, namely agriculture, manufacturing, and services. For electricity to perform this function a vastly different approach to generation and supply would be required. The improvement in productivity and expansion of agriculture require irrigation, mechanization and storage facilities – and these activities require energy and not all of it electricity and where electricity is most efficient form of energy, it need not be grid-supplied. Modern technologies that can be harnessed abound – at costs that are comparable to grid electricity. Manufacturing requires not only energy but energy that is provided efficiently and at reasonable costs. Only then will our industries be able to compete with imports from China etc. and will we be able to stop the drain of foreign currency out of the Treasury. It is important to state that while adequate and reliable power is critical and needs to be planned carefully, it must be complemented by an efficient transportation infrastructure, access to capital, an upskilled productive labour force etc.

Addressing the problem must be from a holistic perspective: Clear outputs and outcome-based indices must comprise the goals and targets in a comprehensive economic plan. Resources must be allocated to address specific problems, with a clear monitoring and evaluation framework to ensure there is enhanced performance. Nigeria must once and for all stop spending scant government revenues in the hundreds of billions of Naira in a way that does not address the fundamental problems of the industry and, moreover, further deprives other sectors such as education and health of much needed funds. Throwing money at the electricity industry without demanding a commensurate improvement in services that is transparently linked to addressing unemployment and income generation is in essence throwing money down the drain. Worse still, it simply delays the underlying socio-economic problems for a later day.

Image by Tom Swinnen from Pexels

Last week SHOPRITE announced it was pulling out of Nigeria and looking for local investors to take over the business. While the news may have caught some completely by surprise, others who have followed the difficulties the chain has had to contend with may have already seen the writing on the wall. To name one such difficulty: epileptic electricity supplies, a major problem for shopping malls that rely on freezers 24/7 and massive air conditioning during opening hours.

The withdrawal should be of great concern to us all. After all, retail business sector as at 2018 accounted for about 16% of the Nigerian GDP. In an era characterized by a drive for diversification, the withdrawal is alarming. It is a well-known fact that Nigerian shoppers prefer and want to see, feel, and try on products before making a purchase thus, having a variety of products under one roof helps to address that aspect of the shopping flair in Nigeria.

To jog everyone’s memories: Shoprite is a South-African owned chain which started operations in Nigeria in 2005 and now boasts 26 retail stores across eight states in Nigeria, making it the biggest retailer in the country. It offers its customers a variety of food products, household goods and small appliances at affordable prices. Moreover, it has structured the retail business in Nigeria to international standards to deliver a world-class shopping experience. Indeed, it has a minimum payroll of 2,000 with 99% Nigerian staff strength. It should be noted that about 80% of sales in Shoprite Stores in Nigeria consists of domestic goods which encourages local products. Shoprite has built relationships with over 300 leading Nigerian suppliers, small businesses, and farmers, securing a wide assortment of local brands. It is an example to follow. And it is renowned for its staff training. In a nutshell: SHOPRITE are the pacesetters of structured retail business in Nigeria!

No other retail company in Nigeria has been able to achieve what Shoprite has done in Nigeria in the last 15 years. In fact, none has achieved anything similar in terms of branch outlets, staff strength and establishing an immense network of suppliers, let alone maintaining such standards. This begs the question whether a successor company will keep things moving so well.

The intended discontinuation of SHOPRITE in Nigeria is not surprising, because, for some time, the retailer has been grappling with the twin evils of weak sales revenue due to logistics concerns (one needs think only of clearing goods at Apapa) and the economic downturn in Nigeria – which has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and social distancing. Customer patronage subsequently fell by 7.4% owing to the pandemic lockdown.

Another reason responsible for the challenges that Shoprite is currently facing is the difficult and hostile environment it finds itself: Beyond COVID-19 economic consequences and fall of oil price, there are other factors that made the decision inevitable, some of which are:

Exorbitant rents and high taxes, costs that have to be passed on to customers along with energy costs.

Currency devaluation, as this eats into profits that want to be repatriated, with currency-induced inflation putting another nail in the coffin.

Fast dwindling consumer purchasing power which automatically resulted in a dip in sales of most businesses.

Lack of access to local credit finance given the unrealistic 20-plus percent interest rates demanded by banks

Infrastructure deficits (transportation, energy), making getting produce to the malls and keeping them operating and customers cool – incredibly challenging and/or very costly.

Xenophobia – Some Shoprite stores were looted and destroyed in Nigeria in response to the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, sparking an 8.1% loss in sales in H2 of 2019.

All these factors added up to making it unattractive to the would-be investor, be it foreign or local to invest in Nigeria. It is in this context that the Chief Executive Officer of Shoprite, Pieter Engelbrecht, noted: “…we have taken a number of immediate operational actions, all of which are on-going and include rent reductions, store closures, productivity improvements and de-dollarising costs. We are confident in the absence of further currency devaluations and any unforeseen circumstances that these operational measures will positively impact profitability.”

From the foregoing, it is obvious that the exit of the chain-store will adversely affect not just the staff, but the numerous suppliers and farmers. It is conceivable that some of these small business holders will go out of business. In other words, the exit will have a ripple effect on the economy. There  is also no assurance that new owners, assuming such are found, will want to retain the old staff. And who knows what the situation will be as regards the real-estate investors who developed the shopping malls and own the respective sites.

A 2013 McKinsey report estimated that from 2008 to 2020, Nigeria offered a $40 billion growth opportunity in food and consumer goods. Evidently, with the SHOPRITE announcement, at the latest that bubble has burst. In fact, in 2019, according to a survey released by A.T Kearney, a global management consulting firm, Nigeria’s global ranking in retail development dropped to 30th position out of 30 countries with the total national sales dropping from $109 billion the prior year to $015 billion. Yet if one looks at the above factors closely, then it emerges that at leave five of the six are open to influence by good policymaking (on import duty regimes, red tape, infrastructure, etc.), which can definitely positively affect the cost of doing business in Nigeria. Remember, government is there to enable business to take place, not to do business. In this case, it would seem to have failed in its enabling role.

Government should already be going into action. After all, there the risk of contagion effect. What will happen to Game and other foreign companies directly and indirectly involved in the retail sector? It is no longer news that one of the clothing brand retailers, Mr. Price, a popular affordable clothing, sport and home wear brand has already closed shop and left with all their investments while citing difficulties and challenges, such as repatriating profits. With the attendant consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian economy and its populace which is resulting to massive job losses and decreased income, it is only a matter of time and will not be a surprise if other similar foreign retail stores follow in Mr. Price’s and Shoprite’s footsteps.

Retail business in Nigeria is viewed by many as a new frontier of growth and holds significant opportunities for local and international investors and if fully harnessed, the opportunities it avails the economy are vast. These include job creation, spurring industrial growth, infrastructure development, and thus ultimately contribute to GDP growth. So, if we keep allowing these investors to close shop and leave, it portends a huge loss to the economy. In this context, it should be of great concern to the Nigerian government that the Nigerian economy is growing slower than its population growth due to the hostile business environment.

On the other hand, neither the government nor the populace need worry about the exit of one or more foreign investors if there are no impediments to healthy competition, markets function efficiently, and if the decision to close shop is based solely on corporate decisions – and has nothing to do with the systemic challenges facing the retail sector. If this were the case, then the departure of Shoprite from Nigeria could spell more business growth for Nigerian retail supermarkets and businesses. It is a big ‘if’ as it assumes quite a lot being in place: appropriate competition policies and legislation; insignificant barriers to entry and exit; open borders; easy repatriation of profits and capital; ease of doing business; low transaction and indirect costs; favourable macroeconomic conditions (taxation, fiscal policies, interest rates, access to finance, and exchange rate regime); improved security and infrastructure. And last but not least, effective sector-government liaison (to convey challenges and feedback).

Now that is a hefty set of homework assignments for government… And we can comfortably contend that it is only once those issues plaguing the Nigerian business environment are tackled squarely and openly and appropriate policies put in place that government can sit back and no longer worry if a major company, be it foreign or local, closes shop.