African CEOs chart path to $1billion investment opportunities in Nigeria, others
• Seek unified currency on trade
Despite difficult business environment in Nigeria and other African cities, worsened by weak infrastructure, capital, shortage of skilled labour, technology, and other risks, chief executives of companies, yesterday, expressed optimism that the continent still has potential for enterprises to generate $1 billion revenue.
However, they emphasised need for flexibility of policies, strategic allocation of public and private assets, zeal for international ambition and adoption of single currency to promote trade and double targets.
There are 345 companies in Africa with revenues worth over $1 billion. Compare to Asia with 3,341, the United States of America and Canada, 1,585, or Europe with 2,752, it becomes clear that Africa’s companies are leaving money on the table.
These companies are said to have, in common, cracked code to exponential returns, fast and sustained growth, and a high return on invested capital.
The leaders, who spoke at a CEO session, entitled ‘From 300 to 3,000: The Road to One Billion in Revenue’, on the sidelines of the 2023 Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan, lamented import intensity of the Nigerian economy and other African countries, which allows importation of equipment and materials in United States dollars, adding that Africa must industrialise, to reduce import intensity of economies and engender needed growth to cater for its over one billion population.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Guardian, the Group Chief Executive Officer, Transcorp Plc, Dr. Owen Omogiafo, said Nigeria needs deliberate economic strategy, which must be driven by power sector strategy.
She said the nation is a land filled with huge opportunities, high population, natural resources, capital and a thriving customer economy, adding that should be done is to harness opportunities for growth.
She said: “Comparing Nigeria to other countries, they don’t have the population that we have and the diversity. If you are coming from North America, it is usually flying one place of change. For us at Transcorp, we invest in power because we know that to get a billion dollar revenue, we need to fix our power sector, to catalyse change and skills needed in the country.
“I think the new president has been very vocal about things he wants to do and we’ll just watch and see. There’s fuel subsidy and harmonisation of exchange rate.”
The Group Chief Executive Officer, Transnet SOC Ltd, Portia Derby, said to make the continent a frontier for growth, there must be democratisation of investment across countries, to enable indigenous participation in asset class ownership.
She said: “Authorities must develop means of using the continent’s asset base to promote inclusion in our economies, including the small and medium-sized enterprises and the private sector. We must be able to deal with the belief that because something is European, it is assumed better than any products from the continent.
“We must focus primarily on ourselves, particularly, in areas of strategic assets, like telecommunications and rail projects. We must invest directly on ourselves and it must be Africa first in every decision and policymaking.”
Chairman, Vista Group Holding, Simon Tiemtore, said Nigeria and others countries must work together in ensuring there is fixed stability on currency, arguing that currency fluctuations, erode wealth in specific locations, such as Nigeria, and Ghana.
He noted: “We have to stop the systemic issue of dollar economy, whereby every single goods from overseas is paid in United States dollar. If we don’t trade among ourselves in Africa, we are going to have limited growth. I think that we must come together and agree on a single currency for trade within ourselves. By the way, the AfCFTA will not work without a single currency. We need a single currency.”