How we can make Diaspora bonds work – VP Osinbajo

Yemi Osinbajo

VP Yemi Osinbajo: suffering indignities from the presidency

Yemi Osinbajo.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says it is imperative for Nigeria to proffer solutions on how Diaspora bonds and Diaspora mutual funds will work to boost the country’s economy.

Osinbajo said this at the two-day Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit 2019, which was organised by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), on Thursday in Abuja.

The summit had the theme: “Leveraging Diaspora Resources for Economic Growth’’, held at the Presidential Villa.

The vice president said that the interest in previous attempts at Diaspora bonds appears to have attracted mainly institutional investors.

He noted that Nigeria can explore how Diasporans in the financial industry in their countries of residence can partner with local private capital companies to raise capital in both jurisdictions for investment.

“In the past four years, a major focus of our government has been on infrastructural development, on rail, roads, bridges and power.

“Our infrastructure spending is by far the largest in history, yet the infrastructure deficits remain significant because we have major funding gaps.

“Part of the solution is private sector collaboration by way of tax credits for investment in public infrastructure. The other is the infrastructure fund; the fund at the moment has only received institutional investors.

“But there is in my view room for investment from Diaspora funds, such investments especially when managed with the known expertise of the Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund can be both safe and profitable.

“Our focus on renewable energy in the power sector also presents an opportunity especially with our green bonds, Africa’s largest sovereign Green Bond.

“The bond issuance has done so well and has supported very lucrative investments in our energising education project.

“The programme will improve access to power to 37 federal universities and seven university teaching hospitals across the country.

“It will also impact the residents of surrounding communities of over 1,110,000 people,’’ he said.

He added that the possibilities of mobilising the Diaspora capital for local investment was key, adding that in Kano State a total 119MW of power will be provided out of which 60MW will be solar-powered projects.

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“Only last month at Bayero University we commissioned the largest hybrid solar plant in Africa at the Bayero University Kano.

“Investments in green bonds serve important economic and environmental purposes. The possibilities are many.

“I hope we will spend some time at this summit to closely scrutinise the options for mobilising Diaspora capital for local investment,’’ said Osinbajo.

He said that an `excellent work done by Aaron Terrazas, Diaspora investment in developing and emerging capital markets’.

He added that some international agencies such as USAID and OPIC two U.S. agencies have supported Diaspora investments in their countries of origin through risk reduction.

“USAID does this by focusing on the lenders in the country of origin and OPIC by focusing on Diaspora investors who are U.S. citizens.

“The Development Credit authority also a U.S. government initiative has provided partial credit default guarantees to enable Ethiopian entrepreneurs in Diaspora access bank credit.

“The way it works is that the credit guarantee allows USAID partner banks to mobilise locally held assets and savings. The DCA then guarantees 50 percent of losses in case of default.

“Also OPIC supports U.S. registered companies investing overseas by offering discounted insurance to protect against currency risk.

“In particular the possibility that an investor may have difficulty converting profit or capital from local currency to dollars, and also political and expropriation risks.

“Now it is entirely possible to work with both local and international agencies to seek ways of de-risking Diaspora investments to encourage more interest in local investment opportunities,’’ the vice president said.

According to him, the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) can de-risk Diaspora investment in agriculture and agri-business.

He noted that NIRSAL’s mandate was to stimulate the flow of affordable finance and investments into the agricultural sector by de-risking the agribusiness finance value chain.