Nigeria 2016 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dr. Musa A. Musa, Group Managing Director & CEO of Abuja Investments Company Limited (AICL), on developing Abuja, supporting foreign investors, and looking toward growth in the future.

 Dr. Musa A. Musa
Dr. Musa A. Musa is an experienced public servant who began his professional life as a foreign service officer with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, working for 19 years with a distinguished record of service. He holds a PhD in political economy and international relations from Howard University, Washington D.C., and an MSc in Business Administration from the Central Michigan University, as well as a BSc in government and politics from Maryland University, College Park. He was appointed as the Honorable Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Tourism Development in his home state of Bauchi in 2000, a post he held until May 2003 while he also oversaw the activities of the State Ministry of Lands, Housing and Environment as Acting Commissioner. He has also held many board appointments in addition to serving as the economic adviser to the FCT Minister before being appointed as the GMD-AICL in 2011.

As an important player in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja, what is AICL's mission in the FCT?

AICL is a holding company fully owned by the Federal Capital Territory Administration. Our role as a catalyst for economic development provides an atmosphere where entrepreneurship thrives and facilitates investments to enhance the socioeconomic life of citizens of the city, and Nigerians in general. As a holding company, we supervise a number of companies, while also being owners of those companies. Our operations are diverse and focused mainly on property development, markets development and management, transportation, equity and portfolio management, and consultancy and general services. In the property sector, we are engaged in the construction of medium to high income residential real estate areas within the city, and our subsidiary APDC (Abuja Property Development Company) has keyed into the vision by providing low income housing on the outskirts of the city. We also develop commercial real estate such as shopping plazas, neighborhood centers, and office suites, and are currently building one of the largest shopping malls (AICL Mall, Guzape) in the new Guzape District within the city. AICL Market development activities include the building of four BOT markets through PPP arrangements and the ownership and facility management of Wuse, Garki and other markets through our subsidiary company, AMML (Abuja Markets Management Limited). AICL is actively engaged in the transportation sector within the FCT. We provide the number one city taxi line (Abuja Taxis), while the mass transit buses are operated by our subsidiary, AUMTCO (Abuja Urban Mass Transit Company) in line with the FCTA transportation master plan. In addition, AICL has substantial equity in big ticket projects and assets such as Abuja Automotive Village, Abuja Film Village, International Conference Center, Eagle Square, Abuja Technology Village Free Zone, Aso Savings & Loans, World Trade Centre & Towers, and Abuja City Center Development Projects, giving the company a robust and diverse portfolio. Finally, we offer consultancy services to other state governments by helping them set up an investment unit such as ours and have been able to startup companies in the ICT and waste management sectors of the economy.

What services do you provide for foreign investors wanting to do business in Abuja?

It is within our mandate to enter into joint ventures to facilitate investments in the Federal Capital Territory. Our position as government partners enables us to provide a platform for foreign investors to successfully establish businesses in Abuja. Generally in Nigeria, the investment climate is improving, especially with the new government which emphasizes due process, transparency, and accountability. Even though AICL is fully owned by the government as a limited liability company, we have acquired a legal personality separate from the government. This separation from the government provides us a different operation model which enables us to engage in projects and conclude in a reasonable time with fewer bottlenecks and bureaucracy. The Abuja World Trade Center & Towers, Abuja Downtown Development Project, and Powernoth–AICL Equipment Company Ltd, an integrated waste management services company. These are good examples of ongoing AICL and foreign investment initiatives in the Federal Capital Territory. AICL has a government agency facilitating investments in Abuja is well positioned to offer advisory services to potential investors in areas of regulatory requirements, tax requirements and finance options. We can also provide land equity for potential investors in Abuja.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

We have a positive outlook. First of all, the government has a business philosophy that emphasizes transparency, accountability, and due process. These three things are imperative to the success of any business and are also critical to the success of any government. This will give international investors the confidence to come to Nigeria, because they will know that when they come here to do business, there will not be any cutting of corners, and it will be solely based on transparency and due process, in line with international best practices. In this new political era, there is even more scope for foreign investors to be successful in the country, and we are here to aid them in Abuja.