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Experts seek security, enabling environment for businesses to thrive

By Benjamin Alade
23 November 2022   |   2:25 am
For businesses to thrive in Nigeria, the government must provide security, viable policies and an enabling environment for the promotion and development of industries, experts have said.

For businesses to thrive in Nigeria, the government must provide security, viable policies and an enabling environment for the promotion and development of industries, experts have said.

Given the current challenges of foreign exchange scarcity, and irregular government policies among others, they said businesses should show resilience and value as this will serve as a step in the right direction.

The experts spoke at the Economic Summit and B2B event as part of the French Week 2022 organised by the Franco-Nigeria Chamber of Commerce (FNCCI) in Lagos yesterday, titled, ‘France economic presence in Nigeria: leveraging the opportunities.’

Partner Audit, Mazars, Osamudiame Adams, said there are challenges everywhere, but feels the biggest thing is value for businesses coming into Nigeria.

Adams said: “If you are sure of the value you are bringing to the table and you have the resilience to follow through, it fronts every challenge faced. There are companies in Nigeria doing exceptionally well, which boils down to value, impact, resilience and also ready to play by the rules.

“There are a lot of opportunities and we believe so much in looking at the positives and making sure that your value is there and you are resilient enough and have the right partners to help you through the right process,” he said.

Director for Nigeria at Business France (Export), Igor Chlapak, said, it is quite a challenging environment and markets in oil and gas countries, especially Angola but that of Nigeria is different, it is enormous.

Chlapak said the private sector is extremely performing and developed here in comparison to Angola or Libya adding that the ease of doing business is sometimes hard in those countries, which might be strange.

“The private sector is expecting some reforms that would encourage day-to-day business, especially when it comes to basic infrastructure like roads, logistics and energy, which are determinants for running businesses in a country,” he said.

Speaking on how to identify businesses in Nigeria, Country Director of PROPARCO, Jean Guyonnet, said identifying business is not really a problem in Nigeria; it is a very dynamic economy so a lot of business opportunities are there.

Guyonnet noted that as investors, there are a lot of targets, it is not really a challenge to identify, it is rather a challenge to select the right partners and businesses we want to finance.

He said: “PROPARCO is a financial partner, we don’t seek to invest or finance a loan, we want to partner with the local institutional investors like commercial banks especially UBA, which has been a strong financial partner and we are still working in close relationship with them, I can also mention First Bank of Nigeria, which we have signed a $50million deal with this year, dedicated to climate finance and SME financing, we also have venture capital funds that we have partnered with.

“This is very important for us because, through these local players, we don’t take the lead because we believe these local players are in a better position to reach out to the people. We believe with this, we can address the need for financing young entrepreneurs, which you know there is a huge potential in this country,” he said.

Director-General, FNCCI, Moses Umoru, said the French economic presence in Nigeria has continued to grow.

Umoru said: “If you look at the map in terms of France’s investment in Nigeria, 20 years ago there was a rise, 10 years ago there was a decline and if you look at the map now, it is coming up because in the last 10 years French companies have actually doubled in Nigeria, we see different brands coming into Nigeria.

“Beyond the oil and gas, this has always been the bane of French investment in Nigeria; we are looking at tech, e-commerce and even manufacturing.”

Managing Director, ENGIE Energy Access, Bankole Cardoso, said as an off-grid energy company, the company is focused on people in Nigeria with no access to electricity.

According to him, there are about 50 million people in Nigeria who have no access to the grid.

“Today we have reached out to half a million, which is 500,000 people, which is barely one per cent of course.

“We have two key projects that we are working on now, one is a mini-grid development project, we are aiming to build about 150 mini-grids across Nigeria, mainly in the Middle Belt, Niger, Kwara, Kogi. These are communities where there is no power at all, so we build a generation capacity and solar plant in the village or towns and distribution lines to the households, what that does is that it also spurs up economic activities,” he said.