Message from the Chairman
As we approach the two-year mark in this devastating pandemic, Nigeria has reminded me once again of the remarkable ways in which this challenging period has accelerated digital transformation. The Central Bank of Nigeria will soon launch Africa’s first ever central bank-backed digital currency: the eNaira. Although the rollout has been delayed by logistical challenges, the optimism around the launch of the eNaira is exciting, and I believe it will, in time, provide Nigerians with a secure alternative to the paper naira, and hopefully bank some of the 58 million (+) Nigerians who remain excluded from the formal banking sector. Nigeria is one of about 80 countries worldwide exploring central bank-backed digital currencies, with South Africa and Ghana moving ahead with trials and Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, and Tunisia all reportedly in the initial research stages – an exciting trend.
Much to our disappointment, COVID-19 is not going anywhere anytime soon, however. While Nigeria’s vaccination drive has improved over the last quarter, vaccine hesitancy rooted in misinformation is hurting the roll out – just like it is in the United States. I was pleased to see Nigeria receive approval for $400 million in World Bank financing to support its vaccine acquisition and distribution efforts, and will continue to follow with great interest the government’s efforts to defeat this pandemic.
This last quarter also saw H.E. President Muhammadu Buhari sign into law the long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill, 2021, overhauling Nigeria’s powerful oil and gas industry. While implementation will be key, I am optimistic that the PIB will have positive effects on the country’s oil and gas production, as well as its public finances, in the long run.
The new U.S. administration’s evolving policy towards Nigeria – and Africa more broadly – remains one of our main foci, and I was pleased to see that President Buhari met with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations The Hon. Linda Thomas-Greenfield on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in September – one of just three African leaders who met with US cabinet-level officials. I remain optimistic about the trajectory of U.S.-Nigeria relations and look forward to hosting Ambassador of Nigeria to the United States, H.E. Dr. Uzoma Emenike, later this quarter.
None of this would be possible without the unwavering support of our members. The special relationship the United States enjoys with Nigeria is more important now than ever before, and we look forward to working with you all to advance U.S.-Nigeria relations through these unparalleled global challenges. My very best wishes to you all.
Ambassador (ret.) Terence P. McCulley
Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria (2010-2013);
Chairman, U.S. Nigeria Council
Regionally in-tune, the Council’s work actively supports Nigeria’s national strategy for economic prosperity and US commercial diplomacy. With the support of key Nigerian political and economic institutions including the Nigerian Sovereign Trust Fund, the Council helps to advance critical trade and investment initiatives by maximizing industrial free trade zones, diversifying exports, integrating agro-investments into global supply chains, and matching energy development to production needs.