Guinness Nigeria Says Violence Wave May Deter New Investors

Guinness Nigeria Plc, the West African nation’s second-largest brewer, said a recent wave of deadly bomb attacks and kidnappings by Islamist militants may deter foreign investment in the continent’s biggest economy.

The fear is the impact on “potential foreign investors currently sitting on the fence and waiting for the right time to come to Nigeria,” Chief Executive Officer Seni Adetu said in an interview in Abuja, the capital, in advance of the World Economic Forum in Africa. “Its massively of concern to me, first as a Nigerian and secondly as a Nigerian businessman.”

Executives from around the world are arriving at the forum as Africa’s biggest oil producer faces one of the worst rounds of violence in the capital in recent history. More than 90 people have been killed in separate bomb attacks in the past month just miles from where the conference is taking place, while U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged help to find more than 200 students who were abducted following a raid on an all-girls secondary school by gunmen on April 14.

The spread of violence carried out by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram from its base in the northeast of Nigeria has raised the level of concern for local companies as well as foreign investors, according to Adetu.

Changed Perspective

“Up until now you always thought that it was restricted to the northeastern part of the country,” he said. “From a business standpoint, you just thought you could deal with that, but I think coming closer to Abuja, as we have seen in the last two weeks, has sort of changed the perspective around the insurgency.”

Foreign direct investment in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with about 170 million people, rose 28 percent to $21.3 billion last year, according to the statistics office. It has enough economic potential to continue to attract further investment, Adetu said. Guinness Nigeria, a unit of London-based Diageo Plc, remains committed to the market, he said.

“I still believe that in totality, on account of the economic opportunity in Nigeria, it’s still the right place to come and invest,” he said.

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