Nigerian govt assures S African investors of safety in Niger Delta

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lagos - The Nigerian federal government has reassured existing and potential South African investors of the safety of their investments in the Niger Delta region.

Nigeria's Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Ufot Ekaette gave the reassurance while addressing participants at a two-day South Africa-Niger Delta investment council conference on Tuesday.

"I make bold to state that there are several South African companies that are operating successfully in Nigeria without any form of molestation.

"In the Niger Delta itself, there are international companies that have been there for over 60 years despite the occasional threats to security in the region," he said.

Minister Ekaette said as a deliberate effort by the government to make Niger Delta region more conducive for investment, it has granted amnesty to individuals and groups that have been involved in violence in the region.

"We have abundant investment opportunities that exist and potential South African investors can harness and become a part of the development of the Niger Delta," said Mr Ekaette.

The minister advised investors to look beyond oil and the allied sector and invest in agricultural, ports, roads and railways sectors.

He added that investors and experts are welcomed to partner with his ministry and state governments in designing and constructing critical infrastructure and other projects that would give impetus to economic development and create jobs for the teeming youths in the region.

According to him, President Umaru Yar'Adua has directed the ministry to embark on the construction of the Niger Delta Coastal roads, which would be one of the longest road networks in the country when completed.

"My ministry is currently processing papers for the engagement of consultants for the design of 700 kilometers of road, which will stretch from southeast Nigeria's Cross Rivers State to southwest Nigeria's Ondo State and is estimated to cost about $6.4 billion," the minister said.

He said he also looked forward to South African investors' participation in the ministry's youth training programs.

Earlier, Nigeria's High Commissioner to South Africa Buba Marwa,I n his opening remarks, asked Nigeria and South Africa to firm up their relations especially in the area of trade and investment.

He called for the strengthening of relations between the two countries to make Africa relevant in global political, social and economic issues.