Operators of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the United States and Nigeria are exploring areas of cooperation and opportunity in both countries.
A trade delegation made up of 16 US companies representing various sectors visited Nigeria last week as part of the largest US government –led trade mission to Africa in history.
The US companies and their Nigerian counterparts, mostly businesses in the SME category, met and discussed areas of cooperation, while hoping that they would sign contracts at some point in the future.
“Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa with countless business opportunities, and it can be a great launching point into other African markets,” said Dehab Ghebreab,U.S. acting consul general in Lagos, at the event.
According to Ghebreab, the US was always looking forward to bringing trade delegation to Nigeria as well as arranging business delegation (from Nigeria) to the US, adding that it was only when businesses met face to face that they could understand the type of work they did and how best to create a good agreement.
The Trade Winds-Africa spinoff trade mission to Lagos saw a day of meetings for U.S. business executives with Nigerian Government leaders and entrepreneurs, furthering numerous U.S.-Nigerian business leads and deals. The Trade Winds-Africa mission is part of a concerted effort under President Obama’s
Doing Business in Africa campaign, under which the U.S. government has committed billions of dollars in financing to stimulate trade and investment in a wide range of industrial sectors.
“Nigeria’s burgeoning market means untold possibilities for U.S. companies, which can provide quality goods, services, and solutions in a broad array of sectors,” said Brian McCleary, U.S. senior commercial officer, who is based in Lagos.
According to McCleary, with a combination of almost 180 million people, brain power, huge sophisticated population and entrepreneurship in Nigeria, no country could afford to ignore it.
He said there were a lot of unexploited opportunities in Nigeria’s non-oil or non-energy sector, notably healthcare, ICT, education/training, franchising, among others, adding that the US companies were looking at a wide range of sectors in Africa’s largest economy.
“But power generation still remains a big issue,” he said.
Start-Up Digest learnt that many of the U.S. companies also visited other markets such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and South Africa.
Bill Fanjoy, director of the department of commerce’s Virginia and Washington, DC U.S. Export Assistance Centers (– USEAC), who led the delegation, said the visit was critical as President Obama continued to pay particular attention to powering Africa and doing business in the continent, stressing that what was key in the visit was that US and Nigerian companies were determined to sign contracts.
“All the (US) companies here know what the economic, political and commercial situations here are. What is significant is that the trade mission is not meeting on the high level, between presidents and presidents, but it is done at the real level, between the US companies and Nigerian companies. We have been looking forward to businesses between small and medium sized companies in the US and Nigeria and Africa,” Fanjoy said.
Lekan Pitan, former commissioner for health and education in Lagos and special advisor for Africa International Hospital Federation, said said the visit was critical in terms of building the necessary bridge between mid-level credible entrepreneurs, adding that it was cost-effective such that time was maximized and effectiveness enhanced. Pitan said it was only through a medium like this that the trade gap between the two countries could be bridged.
“It is critical now that we have a new government that has given a new vista to the Nigerian image, where anti-corruption mantra is given a new impetus, not only to Nigerians but also to our image outside,” Pitan said.
Ronke Champion, president and CEO, Peace Hospice & Palliative Care and HBA Illionis, said she had met a lot of businesses that were ready in partnering with her firms, saying that she hoped that some contracts would be signed at some point in the future.
Champion, who is a Nigerian based in the US, said though Nigeria needed technology transfer, such could not work effectively without training, and knowledgeable personnel.
Source: Business Day, Nigeria