Nigeria Reforms Capital Importation to Attract Foreign Investors

Nigeria’s central bank on Monday will start issuing electronic certificates for capital imported into the country, in a bid to improve its currency transfer process, it said.

The new certificate will replace a hard copy now issued when capital is imported, according to a circular from the central bank. The bank said the move would enhance transparency and efficient processing of foreign investment, Reuters reports.

Investors or companies are required by a 1995 law to get certificates within 24 hours declaring they have invested foreign currency in Nigeria. They must have the certificates to repatriate returns on those investments.

Under the old rule, investors struggled to meet the one-day deadline to get the certificates, bankers say.

Nigeria grew out of recession in the second quarter as oil revenues rose, but the pace of growth was slow, suggesting a fragile recovery.

Foreign investors fled the country when oil prices dropped three years ago. They have started to return, thanks to improved transparency on exchange rates, and the central bank is trying to attract more investment.

Nigeria’s upper house of parliament last September agreed to investigate whether Africa’s biggest telecoms company, MTN, unlawfully repatriated $13.92 billion between 2006 and 2016, because it did not obtain certificates declaring it had invested foreign currency within the deadline.

MTN has denied any wrong doing, saying that it did not break Nigeria’s currency-transfer rules.