There is no doubt that Brexit would impact either positively or negatively on Africa, especially Nigeria, the most populous and biggest economy in Africa, hence Nigeria’s high delegation led by President Muhammadu Buhari to London for the summit.
The summit beginning on January 20, 2020, is to create new partnerships in the event of Brexit.
Brexit is a short working slogan for Britain’s quest to leave the European Union, to which it has been a member since 1973. With the realisation of Brexit, UK is seeking to solidify and create new frontiers and to sustain economic growth, especially with Commonwealth countries, including Nigeria.
The UK was Nigeria’s 6th largest trading partner in 2018 with total trade roughly $5 billion.
In 2018, Nigeria exported £2.23 billion worth of crude oil to the UK, an improvement over the level of £1.1 billion in 2017; but with the UK’s economy exposed to downside risks, the outlook for Nigeria’s oil sales appears less promising.
It is essential for Nigeria to regain market share in the UK and Europe, which accounts for 46% of its crude oil sales.
As part of its post-Brexit strategy, the UK government hopes to revive its relationships with the Commonwealth markets and has already begun talks with Nigeria to improve ties.
Mr Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President Buhari on Media & Publicity, said the London investment summit will provide Nigeria with the opportunity to project itself as a leading investment destination for new industries.
In addition, the summit will deepen Nigeria-United Kingdom investment ties post-Brexit given that Africa currently represents just two per cent of British trade activity, with Nigeria accounting for only 10 per cent of that total.
ARM Securities Limited (ARM Securities), a dealing member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and regulated by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), reports that for Nigeria as a commonwealth nation, the eventual implications of Brexit might trickle down.
It predicts that Brexit impact can herald the weakening of the Great Britain Pound relative to other currencies. Buying of pounds now might not be a great idea. Shopping in the UK might be less expensive as the Naira will likely buy more than it would have before now.
It reports also that travel processes are likely to remain the same regardless of Brexit.
A researcher and economist at FXTM, Mr Lukman Otunuga, advised Nigeria the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to pay close attention to developments in the United Kingdom.
According to him, there is the need for the Nigerian government to diversify its economic activities and drastically minimise its over-reliance on oil as a major source of revenue.
British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright said also that UK is naturally looking to grow its market share, to encourage more businesses to come to Nigeria.
He said that UK remains the 5th largest exporter to Nigeria.
``Our bilateral trade relationship is worth $3.8bn per annum.’’
``The historical and cultural links between Nigeria and the UK, the common language of English that the vast majority of Nigerians speak, the strong educational and business links don’t change. If anything, I see our connection becoming stronger.’’
``We want Nigerians to travel to the UK. They come to do business, to study, to see family and to invest in our economy. ‘’
I hope Brexit will mean more British travellers visiting Nigeria, for the same reasons that Nigerians come to the UK.
Whatever Brexit means for the UK, it is also clear that Nigeria is going through a painful adjustment period as the Government seeks to diversify the economy away from being dependent on oil and gas and into other areas.
``I support that approach. The price of oil may increase. But that industry alone can’t support the need for jobs that Nigerians now have. That’s why the UK’s Department for International Development has its second largest programme in Africa here in Nigeria, helping with the immediate needs of course of those in desperate circumstances in the north-east of Nigeria,’’ he said.
UK, he explained is helping to grow and diversify Nigeria’s own industrial base and encourage entrepreneurship through improved education and skills training.
``I think what happens here in Nigeria and the choices made by the Nigerian government will be more important for the Nigerian economy than whatever Brexit may mean for Nigeria.’’
The British Deputy High Commissioner, Ms Harriet Thompson, also on January 16, 2020 said that Nigeria must take advantage of Brexit to seek high quality investment to provide employment and improve standard of living.
According to her, a UK- Nigerian partnership is strategic to facilitate and aid trade relations.
“Both countries have the advantage of shared languages, similar time zones, high skilled levels, innovation and openness to properly harness and maximize the benefits of the partnership.
“Top British companies have been investing, are still investing and more are still expected to invest.
“Nigeria has the opportunity to tell the British companies what it has to offer greater than oil and gas” she said.