Blinken nudges Nigeria on capital flows for US businessesWed, 24 Jan 2024 12:53:12 GMT

Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced hope Wednesday for greater US investment in Nigeria, but called on Africa’s largest economy to reassure investors that they can repatriate their funds. A day after meeting President Bola Tinubu in the capital Abuja, Blinken toured the commercial metropolis Lagos where he visited a complex of IT startups and inaugurated a new US space showcasing American technology. Blinken’s motorcade passed through teeming streets of the city of more than 20 million before entering the sparkling complex of 21st Century Technologies, where he was shown Nigerian innovations in software and virtual reality.Hailing Nigerian ingenuity, Blinken said that the United States had a growing interest “in working with Nigeria, investing in Nigeria, partnering with Nigeria”. But he added: “There are challenges that still need to be met to make sure that this is the most inviting business environment possible.” He said he spoke to Nigerian leaders about issues “including the ability to repatriate capital, including the ongoing challenge of rooting out corruption”. Foreign businesses in Nigeria require permission from the central bank to return funds to their home countries. While the central bank has assured investors, businesses have complained about long delays in recent years as Nigeria’s foreign reserves dwindle as a result of a drop in global oil prices and Nigeria’s own crude production.Foreign airlines, for example, have been complaining about the slow place of resolving access to millions of dollars in profits they say are caught in Nigeria. In Abuja on Tuesday, Blinken also publicly raised the funds repatriation issue but praised economic reforms promised by Tinubu, who was elected last year. “I know that President Tinubu is focused on these challenges, and we also welcome his very bold economic reforms to unify the currency and fuel subsidies,” Blinken told reporters at the presidential palace in Abuja.“We also recognise that, in the short term, these reforms have created pain for vulnerable communities,” he said.