By James Smither
Nigeria has not had an auspicious start to 2012. In addition to an at-times combustible general strike over the removal of fuel subsidies in January, a series of increasingly violent and frequent terrorist attacks linked to the Islamist Boko Haram group have also rocked cities across the north and centre of the country.
Combined with the social and security risks that impede oil production in the Delta region, entrenched public sector corruption and the country’s battles with its power supply, it’s easy to see why the country may not seem an obvious investment destination.
And yet, both many established global brands and emerging Asian giants continue to regard Nigeria as indispensable component of their emerging markets profile. Setting the oil and gas sector to one side, the country’s multinational champions putting money, jobs and facilities where their mouths are include Diageo and Coca-Cola, GSK and Lafarge, Nestlé and KFC, Mango and Wal-Mart, Toyota and Tata.
Clearly, for all the dirty bath-water associated with the country, there also remains a Nigerian baby whose potential has already captured the attention of many and whom investors may be well-advised not to eject too hastily.
What then, are the key drivers of such positive investor sentiment?