Uche Orji, chief executive officer of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority said Wednesday that the country’s sovereign wealth fund stood at $2 billion this month with the investment agency seeking further growth through agriculture and the addition of asset management.
The government’s contribution stands at $1.5 billion, with the rest including funds owned by the institution and those managed for several government agencies, the CEO said in an interview in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana.
The authority has revamped 11 fertilizer-blending plants so far this year as part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s initiative to boost farming output and reduce the economy’s dependence on oil, which contributes two-thirds of government revenue. Africa’s most populous country of more than 180 million people is also the continent’s biggest oil producer.
“At the moment, agriculture is our number one area of investment,” Orji said, adding that the NSIA, as the investment authority is known, plans to rehabilitate another nine fertilizer-blending plants within a year.
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The 11 plants delivered 6 million bags of fertilizer at 30 percent below market prices, halting government subsidies, the information ministry said last month. The project created 50,000 jobs and saved the government 50 billion naira ($139 million) in would-be subsidies this year, it said.
The wealth fund also wants to expand by going beyond government cash injections to undertaking asset management, according to Orji. “That’s the major line of conversation we are having with various agencies and various arms of the government,” he said.
Orji said the fund will soon announce a joint venture in health care with a partner he declined to name and is considering oil and gas investments.
Nigeria’s economy, which vies with South Africa’s as the largest on the continent, expanded in the second quarter by 0.55 percent as agricultural and oil output increased, ending its worst slump in 25 years.