Nigeria: Local Content Participation In Nigeria

Despite the pressure of globalization, the Nigerian Government is responsible of ensuring that businesses in Nigeria remain competitive. This informed the need for the Government to put in place frameworks to enhance the ability of local companies to exploit local opportunities while staying competitive globally. This is the essence of local content legislations in some sectors. The local content provisions in some sectors include;

(a) Information and Communications Technology

The National Information Technology Development Agency ("NITDA") in 2013 released guidelines on Nigerian content development in information and communication technology. According to the guidelines, ICT companies in Nigeria are to maintain 50% (fifty percent) local content either directly or by outsourcing to local businesses to encourage Nigerian representation and participation in the sector.

(b) Oil and gas

The Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act ("NOGICDA") which established the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board ("the Board") was enacted in 2010. The purpose of the Act is to create the framework for growth of Nigerian content in respect of all operations and transactions in Nigeria's Oil and Gas Sector ("the sector"). The Act which defines a Nigerian Company to mean a Company registered in Nigeria in accordance with the provisions of the CAMA with not less than 51% (fifty-one percent) equity shares owned by Nigerians mandates investors in the sector to consider Nigerian content as an important element in their project development and management philosophy. The Act provides that subject to fulfillment of the conditions that may be specified, Nigerian operators and indigenous service companies shall be given first consideration in award of oil blocks, licenses and works in the sector. Consequently, the Board is empowered to execute its duties under the Act as well as ensure that the provisions of the Act are compiled with by stakeholders in the sector.

(c) Lottery

In Lagos at least 15% (fifteen) of shares in predominantly foreign owned gaming licence applicants must be held by Nigerians.

(d) Architect

The Architect (Registration, etc.) Act provides that it is only Nigerian citizens that will be registered to practice architecture in Nigeria. Nevertheless, a foreign architect who satisfies the Architect Registration Council of Nigeria that there exist a reciprocal arrangement of registration of architect between his country and Nigeria may be registered by the Council.  Also, a foreign architect who does not qualify for registration in Nigeria may be registered by the Council if he is employed in Nigeria as a foreign technical assistance or foreign technical aid program or under a contract with the Federal Government or Government of any State of the Federation.

(e) Banks

No person can carry on any banking business in Nigeria except it is duly incorporated in Nigeria and holds a valid banking licence. Again, no foreign bank can operate a branch in Nigeria without prior approval of the CBN. However, CBN may grant licence to Nigerian and foreign banks to undertake off-shore banking business from Nigeria.

(f) Aviation

The Civil Aviation Authority shall not grant an aviation permit, certificate or other authorization to a person who is not a Nigerian citizen or a company registered in Nigeria.

(g) Shipping

It is only vessels wholly owned and operated by Nigerians, built and registered in Nigeria that can engage in domestic coastal carriage of cargo and passenger within the coastal territorial inland waters or any point with the exclusive economic zone of Nigeria restricts the use of foreign-owned or manned vessels for coastal trade in Nigeria. Consequently, a vessel which is not owned by a Nigerian citizen shall not carry any substance whatsoever or dredge any material within Nigerian waters. However, a foreign vessel may render assistance to persons, vessels or aircraft in danger or distress in Nigerian waters.

(h) Broadcasting

The Broadcasting Commission shall only grant a licence if it is satisfied that the applicant is a company registered in Nigeria with majority shares owned by Nigerians. The applicant must also demonstrate that it is not applying on behalf of any foreign interest.

(i) Pharmacists

A person shall be registered and practice as a Pharmacist if he is a Nigerian citizen. Nevertheless, a person who is not a citizen of Nigeria may be registered as a Pharmacist if he is a citizen of a country with reciprocal registration facilities to Nigerian citizens.

(j) Engineering

A non-Nigerian who satisfies the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria that he has been employed for a specific period in a capacity as an engineer and will be in Nigeria temporarily for the purpose of the employment or that he has qualification outside Nigeria which is acceptable to the Council may be registered as an engineer in Nigeria. A company engaged in engineering services must be registered with the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria. To do engineering business, the company must have Nigerian directors that are registered with the council and who hold at least 53% (fifty-three percent) of the shares in the company.

(k) Private security

A foreigner cannot acquire an equity interest in, or sit on the board of, a Nigerian private security guard company in Nigeria.

(l) Advertising

Only a national agency (that is, an agency in which Nigerians own not less than 74.9% of the equity) can advertise in the Nigeria market.

(m) Legal Practitioner

A person can only be entitled to practice as a barrister or solicitor in Nigeria if his name is on the roll of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.  Nevertheless, the Chief Justice of the Federation may grant any legal practitioner who is entitled to practice in a legal system similar to Nigeria, licence to practice in Nigeria. Again, if it is expedient for a person to practice as a barrister for the purpose of specific proceedings, the Chief Justice may grant the person the licence to practice as a barrister in relation to the specific proceedings stipulated.

The above are some of the few businesses which insist on local content participation. There is greater awareness on the need for Nigerians to participate in major sector of the Nigerian economy. For instance in the telecommunications sector, stakeholders have frowned at the absence of clear local content policy in the industry which has resulted in massive loss of jobs meant for Nigerians and poor remuneration of Nigerian workers employed by foreign owned telecommunications companies in the wake of outsourcing business model. There is a clamor for the National Assembly to enact a local content law in other non-oil sectors to improve the capacity of Nigerian businesses and protect the employment of Nigerian employees.

(n) Recent development

On 5th February 2018, President Buhari signed Presidential executive order 5 for "planning and execution of projects, promotion of Nigerian content in contracts and science, engineering and technology". Under the executive order, procuring authorities shall give preference to Nigerian companies and firms in the award of contracts in line with the Public Procurement Act, 2007. The executive order prohibits the Ministry of Interior from giving visas to foreign workers whose skills are readily available in Nigeria. The order also directs ministries, department and agencies to engage indigenous professionals in the planning, design and execution of national security projects.

Nevertheless, consideration shall only be given to a foreign professional where it is certified by the appropriate authority that such expertise is not available in Nigeria. In such an instance, the authority will give preference to foreign companies with a demonstrable and verifiable plan for indigenous development prior to award of such contracts.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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