Diaspora as an Investment Factor in Nigeria

Author:   Ahmed Murtala Hassan

Diaspora as an Investment Factor in Nigeria

Ahmed Murtala Hassan, Nigeria Immigration Service, Abuja, Nigeria

Nigerians in the Diaspora have a significant role to play in the development of the country through their remittances, Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), skills and technology transfer and their professional network in their respective countries of destinations. Remittances from Diaspora to Nigeria are substantial, placing Nigeria as the second highest in Africa and the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Bank’s Migration and Development Review, Remittances to Nigeria rose by 11.2% from $17.21b in 2020 to $19.2b in 2021. Many countries have established policies and legislations to create an enabling environment for full participation and contribution of  Diaspora to their national development. Such countries include, notably India, Israel, China, Pakistan, Mexico, and the Philippines have successfully engaged their Diaspora for rapid development (World Bank, 2011). The African Union through the Declaration of the Global African Diaspora Summit, 2012 emphasized the need to engage the African Diasporas at various levels. Nigeria is a signatory to the Declaration and being Africa’s most populous country with the largest Diasporas, ought to effectively implement the Declaration.

In a follow up to domesticate the Global Africa Diaspora policy document, Nigeria undertook efforts to ensure the effective participation of the Diaspora in economic and infrastructural development. Such efforts have included the provision of guidance for medical missions, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) regulation of financial remittances and international money transfer and the Diaspora Bond, managed by the Debt Management Office, developed to raise funds from Nigerians in the Diaspora. As part of the effort to provide an institutional framework for involving the Diaspora in the affairs of the country, the government in 2003 established the Nigerian National Volunteer Service (NNVS), which had the responsibility of facilitating the engagement of the Diaspora in the development process at home. This effort has now been expanded with the establishment of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission by the enactment of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (Establishment) Act, 2017. The Commission is empowered by the Act to amongst other things, provide a direct link for Nigerians in Diaspora to participate in the development of the nation. In order to facilitate the implementation of the NiDCOM Establishment Act 2017, a National Policy on Diaspora has been provided to offer a comprehensive institutional framework and a strategy for the mobilization and involvement of Nigerians in the Diaspora in the national development process and to address the challenges militating against their participation. Some of these challenges include:

a. Inadequate diaspora database;

b. Insufficient information on existing Diaspora data;

c. Limited coordination of efforts and information relating to the diaspora;

d. Inadequate environment for diaspora investments;

e. Poor transfer of technology and capacity arising from inadequate infrastructure and insecurity;

f. High cost of remittances;

g. Inadequate data on remittances through informal or alternative channels;

h. Insufficient information on investment opportunities and information channels for passing across current information;

i. Time and cost constraints in the provision of services required by the Diaspora;

j. Hostile environment in the host country; and

k. Significant brain drains particularly of medical professionals in the health sector.

The National Diaspora Policy (NDP), 2021 is anchored on the existing National Migration Policy (NMP), 2015 and the National Policy on Labour Migration, 2014 in Nigeria. It is further founded to extend the benefits of the National Economic Recovery Growth Plan as well as the Sustainable Development Goals, 2030. The policy was informed also by the huge global presence of the Nigeria in diaspora who are among the most educated and successful of the immigrant population in many countries. A significant percentage of them are professionals with specialization in fields such as medicine, education, information technology, real estate, law, banking, and engineering etc. Nigerians in the Diaspora, especially the professionals, constitute a large pool of well trained, skilled, and experienced human capital; a critical resource that the country requires to drive its technological advancement in the 21st century and beyond. The Policy framework is based on the following guiding principles which are to govern the implementation of the Policy: Partnership, Engagement and Synergy; Mutuality, Empowerment and Reciprocity; Accountability; Integrity; Inclusiveness; Transparency and Communication; Sustainability; and Consistency.

The federal government of Nigeria as part of efforts to engage Nigerians in Diaspora towards the development of the country, announced, at the National Diaspora Day 2022 celebration in Abuja themed, “Diaspora Engagement in a Globally Challenging Time”, a mortgage investment initiative for Nigerians in Diaspora to own estate property across major cities in the country. According to the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), the initiative is imperative for two reasons. On one hand, it is meant to attract more remittances flow into the country, and on the other hand, it is meant to prevent the diaspora Nigerians from being defrauded by estate agents and relatives in the process of acquiring property in Nigeria. The housing schemes are aimed at enabling Nigerians in diaspora to have mortgage accounts, participate in the National Housing Fund (NHF) scheme, access loans up to N50 million, and own homes through certified developers all from the comforts of their locations. The package is available to any Nigerian (above 18) living in the Diaspora, with evidence of the regular flow of income, with contributions made over a minimum period of one year before being eligible to access the mortgage loan. Subsequently, applicants will register with the NHF through an accredited Primary Mortgage Bank and contribute $150 (for beneficiaries earning $3,000 and below monthly), or $200 (for beneficiaries earning $3,001 and above, monthly), respectively for a minimum period of a year. In addition, the package includes: 30% down payment, a single-digit interest rate of nine per cent and a payback period of up to 10 years.

The 2022 Diaspora Day in Nigeria was celebrated by NiDCOM in partnership with Palton Morgan Holdings, a real estate firm that focuses on upscaled development to meet the taste of diaspora Nigerians. The firm and its subsidiaries had positioned themselves in the real estate sector as a notable player in the industry for over 12 years, with operations spanning across Lagos, Ogun and Abuja, Nigeria. Over the years, the firm has created and deployed economic strategies that have improved the industry and made the industry more attractive for Nigerians both at home and abroad to invest in their own country. With a track record of over 7,000 housing units and serviced plots delivered and, about 2,000 units still under development, Palton Morgan Holdings firm is well positioned as a leader in the industry. It has its vision as an organisation to be a preferred real estate development brand in Africa and beyond.

Recently, as part of its intra-governmental engagement, NiDCOM announced a huge investment valued at 1billion naira from the Ekiti Diaspora forum, a diaspora organisation of the sons and daughters of the Ekiti State of Western Nigeria. NiDCOM in collaboration with the Ekiti State government has facilitated investment incentives which lead to the approval of 250 hectares of land in Irele Ekiti State for a livestock production farming for the Ekiti Diaspora Forum (EDP). According to EDP, the first phase will be a cattle ranch and a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the project in the state which is known as Ekiti Kete Livestock Limited established and registered under the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria.

Additional efforts made by NiDCOM to improve engagement between government and the Diaspora include: a project of partnership between NiDCOM and the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) to set up a strategic investment platform to enable sustainable management of the National Diaspora Investment Trust Fund (NDITF); and the Diaspora Data Mapping project, initiative aimed at creating skills mapping of Nigerians in the Diaspora for effective management of human and capital resources, which is to be achieved through the collection of specific demographic characteristics such as their locations and addresses, contacts, duration in the diaspora, among other variables; process and publish accurate statistical information for development purposes.

The impact of diaspora in the economic development of countries can’t be over emphasised. It is clear that Nigeria is now set to tap into the human and capital resources of its citizens in the Diaspora. From the information gathered in this article, Nigeria has provided a substantial legal and institutional framework to harness these resources. The project of Diaspora Data Mapping being carried out by NIDCOM is crucial to the activities of the organisation, it will enable Nigeria to locate the population of its diaspora, their professional capacities, and multiscalar network across the world. Nigeria can tap more political and diplomatic power from its diaspora population that has dual citizenship. This political opportunity can facilitate bilateral and related diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the host countries of its diaspora. The two instances of diaspora investment initiatives reported in this article, the housing scheme and livestock farming projects, provide policy evidence that more commitment from NiDCOM is capable of attracting huge diaspora investment into the country. NiDCOM should collaborate with states and local governments to encourage Nigerians in diaspora to replicate the patriotic and development initiatives of the Ekiti Diaspora Forum and invest in viable sectors of the economy in their respective states of origin in Nigeria.    


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