By Dipo Olowookere
Founder of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr Jim Ovia, has described Rivers State as an environment richly endowed and good for business.
Speaking this week in Lagos during the Showcase Session on Investment Opportunities in Rivers State, which was part of the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the Visafone boss said his submission was based on his personal experience with doing business in Rivers State.
Mr Ovia, who is also the Chairman of the Nigerian Software Development Initiative, noted that no other state in Nigeria boasts of two seaports, two airports in addition to a youth population that is success driven with a per capita income of over $3,000, which he said were good indices for measuring prosperity and economic opportunities.
He said the economy of Rivers State compared favourably with countries like Rwanda, Kenya and Ghana and assured that the state was on a steady path of prosperity.
Former Governor of Cross River State, Mr Donald Duke, who was present at the Showcase session along with his wife, Mrs Onari Duke, was quite emphatic about the investment opportunities in Rivers State.
Mr Duke who said, “The taste of the pudding is in the eating,” also declared that from experience, he could tell that Rivers State was good for business.
Earlier, Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Wike, who described himself as the Chief Marketer of the state, in his welcome address, informed participants that the achievements recorded in his two years in office could not have been but for the presence of peace and security in Rivers State.
The Governor, represented by the Attorney General of Rivers State and Commissioner of Justice, Mr Emmanuel Aguma (SAN), used the opportunity to call on Rivers people to be proud of their identity and heritage and rise to defend the image of their state.
He noted in particular, that although a state like Lagos, has had the prevalence of kidnappings, ritual killings and cult crises from Badoo cultists, Lagosians have neither taken business out of Lagos nor demarketed Lagos State in any way.
“In this Lagos State, children have been kidnapped from schools. We don’t experience this in Rivers State. Yet nobody has taken business out of Lagos as a result. We hear of Badoo cult clashes in Lagos State. Yet, business is still thriving in Lagos. Lagosians have not called Lagos all manner of unprintable names. It is this same attitude we must adopt as Rivers people. We must refuse to demarket our State especially since no society is free of crime,” he said, adding that “the investment in security by the Rivers State government was second to none in the Nigerian federation and that the confidences of the business community and residents were always assured.”
In his remarks, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Mahmoud Abubakar (SAN), commended Governor Wike for his support to the association and his development-focused governance to the people of Rivers State and called on investors to freely take advantage of the opportunities available in Rivers State to expand the frontiers of their businesses.
The highpoint of the session was the presentation on investment opportunities in Rivers State by Director General of the Rivers State Bureau for Public-Private Partnerships, Mr Nimi Walson-Jack, which covered agriculture, hospitality, tourism, housing and power.
Presentation also showcased existing opportunities for Public-Private Partnership.
The showcase session, which was a mix of legal practitioners and members of the business community from across Nigeria, was chaired by former President of the NBA, Mr Onueze Chukwujinka Okocha (SAN).
Financial Derivatives Company Holds Economic Forum December 5
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
On Monday, December 5, 2022, economic experts, financial analysts, business owners, chief executives and policymakers, among others, will gather for an economic forum organised by Financial Derivatives Company Limited.
The programme will discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic affected many businesses, how some survived it, and things to put in place to mitigate against further pandemics.
In 2020, the world was brought to its knees as the virus shut down the economy, with many people unable to move freely because of restrictions put in place by the various governments to tame the disease, which is still in China, where it emanated from.
The effect of the virus is still being felt across the world as inflation and high energy costs, also influenced by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, have worsened things for many business owners and nations.
These happenings have disrupted the business environment, and to discuss ways to navigate these crises, FDC is bringing together business leaders across the private sector, economic policymakers, and MSMEs at the event themed Corporate resilience: Economic recovery against unforeseen pandemics.
According to the Managing Director of FDC, Mr Bismarck Rewane, the workshop will drive conversations on the present economic outlook and propel dialogues that will explore measures that are needed to strengthen business organisations in preparedness for future uncertainties like the pandemic so that it becomes easier to overcome the crisis and begin the recovery phase.
“The economy and the business landscape, including large corporations, focus on growth in revenue and business expansion. They spend a lot of time and resources developing crisis management programmes with possible scenarios but not with the magnitude of the pandemic.
“The shock has had an irrecoverable effect on the global economy with double-digit inflation in many countries as never seen. As economic stakeholders, we can dialogue to find ways in which businesses are prepared for such situations so that their recovery is less painstaking.
“Is the pandemic over? Would it reoccur? Will there be equitable economic recovery for all corporates?
“These are questions without certain responses. Indeed, these are the uncertainties we must prepare for, and that will form part of the conversation this forum hopes to drive,” he commented.
Interswitch Reaffirms Interest in Fostering Deeper Ties Financial Ecosystem
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The leading digital payments company in Nigeria, Interswitch, has reaffirmed its interest in fostering deeper collaboration between banks and financial technology (fintech) firms within the financial ecosystem by agreeing to be the premium sponsor of the 2022 annual conference of the Committee of e-Business Industry Heads (CeBIH) scheduled for Friday, December 2, 2022, in Lagos.
The annual event, which has enjoyed keen support from the technology giant, has over the years come to be regarded as the point of convergence for stakeholders representing the different sectors of the Nigerian Payment Industry (NPI).
With the theme, Leveraging Ecosystem Synergy to Combat Fraud, the 2022 conference is tailored to emphasise the need for and importance of Payments Ecosystem Players (PEP) to collaborate to win the fight against electronic payment fraud.
“At Interswitch, we remain committed to supporting and partnering with platforms that share our vision to drive a greater, more financially inclusive ecosystem in Nigeria and on the African continent at large.
“Platforms such as the CeBIH conference provide Interswitch and other industry players the opportunity to engage with key stakeholders and collaborators from the financial system with a view to improving our offerings to our customers amid market demands, global trends, and insights from the operating environment,” the Managing Director, Payment Processing and Switching (Interswitch Purepay), Mr Akeem Lawal, said.
He described the conference as an enabler of the growth and improvement of Nigeria’s payment ecosystem, where industry players identify prevalent challenges in the financial ecosystem, provide innovative solutions hinged on current trends, and make quantifiable projections for the future.
Interswitch, as a key industry stakeholder, will be instrumental in spearheading these discussions, especially with its recent efforts around the innovative solutions it provides to curb fraud associated with e-payment.
The digital commerce organisation has continued to blaze the trail in its role as a major partner of the committee and its retreat since 2016.
The CeBIH Retreat, now in its tenth year, attracts key stakeholders from across the various sectors in Nigeria’s payment industry, serving as an avenue for dialogue among industry players.
Nigeria, UK Seek Stronger Ties as Trade Value Hits £5.5bn
By Adedapo Adesanya
The governments of Nigeria and the United Kingdom have disclosed that the trade value between the two countries in 2022 stood at £5.5 billion.
This was disclosed in a statement jointly signed by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Adeniyi Adebayo, and UK Trade Envoy to Nigeria, Mrs Helen Grant, at the 8th ministerial meeting of the United Kingdom-Nigeria Economic Development Forum (EDF).
“Of this £5.5 billion, total UK exports to Nigeria amounted to £3.3 billion in the four quarters of 2022, while total UK imports from Nigeria amounted to £2.2 billion in the four quarters of Q2 2022,” it said.
The statement said that UK and Nigeria reaffirmed their commitment to deepen the trade relationship between both countries.
“It was a confirmation of their shared interest in pursuing an enhanced trade and investment partnership for increased engagement.
“UK and Nigeria agreed that the enhanced trade and investment partnership will offer an alternative high-profile mechanism to progress bilateral economic issues of mutual strategic importance.
“Under this, both sides will continue to work together to resolve market access issues and enhance economic cooperation,” the statement said.
It quoted the UK International Trade Secretary, Ms Kemi Badenoch, as saying, “Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and I’m delighted to see our trade and investment links grow, already worth £5.5 billion.
“The successes of the EDF over the last four years have helped address crucial market access barriers and boosted our exchanges in key sectors such as legal and financial Services.
“I welcome the shared interest in exploring an enhanced trade and investment partnership between our nations that will open up new opportunities for UK and Nigerian business, create jobs, and future-proof our economies against a changing world.”
Ms Badenoch said that the UK recently inaugurated the Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS) with enhanced preferences for Nigeria-UK Trade and Investment.
According to her, the new scheme which will come into effect in early 2023, will cut tariffs on hundreds of everyday products from developing countries.
Similarly, UK Trade Envoy to Nigeria, Mrs Helen Grant, said “the UK and Nigeria go far when we go together.
“We are supporting Nigeria on the path to becoming a higher-growth, more inclusive, and more sustainable economy as we move toward the 2023 elections.
“This is part of a wider push by the UK to drive a free trade, pro-growth agenda across the globe, using trade to drive prosperity and help eradicate poverty.
“A potential enhanced trade and investment partnership would include a series of commitments to tackle non-tariff market access barriers to deliver tangible results for businesses in both the UK and Nigeria,” she said.
“This will be welcome news to Nigerian exporters. It will equally extend tariff cuts to hundreds of more products exported from Nigeria and other developing countries, going further than the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences.
“This is on top of the thousands of products, which Nigeria can already export to the UK duty-free,” she said.
On his part, Mr Adebayo said that it was important that what comes out of the working group builds upon its principles and strengthens its outcomes.
“I know that both Nigeria and the United Kingdom have exchanged policy papers detailing how they wish to proceed, and I look forward to feedback as both papers are reviewed.
“I have always held the strong conviction that there is no crisis without an accompanying opportunity and solution.
“Increased collaboration with Nigeria and other developing markets is needed to mitigate against both current and potential future supply-chain challenges.
“To this end, the introduction of the Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS) is warmly welcomed.
“The reduction in tariffs on hundreds of everyday products should be a win for both Nigerian exporters and UK consumers who are able to access our products at a lower price,” he said.
The minister said that in 2021, UK exports to Nigeria in Dollar terms were $1.64 billion, and Nigerian exports to the UK were valued at $1.12 billion.
“Not too far apart. As we move into 2023, it will be good to see the DCTS grow these numbers,” he said.
Mr Adebayo said that increasing bilateral trade was key for both nations, and the agreement must strategically promote its increase.
“We must continue to work together to resolve market access issues and enhance economic cooperation.”
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