Among other considerations, Nigeria, unarguably, the most populous black country on earth and Africa’s largest economy, has the unique advantages of huge market, cheap labour, low 5 percent Value Added Tax, VAT and easy accessibility through land, air including sea as a result of its population and central location in the Africa continent.
This was the submission of Brian Ebden, director, Teoo Universal Concepts, last week at the Nigeria-South Africa Networking Seminar organized by Wesgro- a government agency in Cape Town, founded 25 years ago to promote trade and investment between South Africa and other parts of the world.
Simultaneously, Michael Gamwo, head of the Wesgro team, re echoed Ebden’s position on the Nigeria market attractions and strength in an interaction with OpenLife, at Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos, venue of the event.
Gamwo, a legal and an investment expert with many years of promoting trade and investments across the continent stated that part of the reasons for Wesgro’s unrelenting efforts in fostering small and medium entrepreneurial agreements with its Nigerian partners is “the size of the Nigeria market. Size of market overshadows other considerations like ease of doing business, political stability etc. This is because ease of doing business, political stability, security are also available in other countries but their market is small. Therefore, Nigeria is unique and very important to us at Cape Town and indeed any producer. Beside, Nigerian businessmen are very vibrant,” he said.
These huge and largely untapped markets were the reasons Wesgro organized the business interaction with potential partners in Nigeria for fresh engagements in business.
Justifying the pan African efforts, Gamwo argued that no foreign country can help Africa countries develop its potential and create the desired jobs except Africans themselves.
He maintained that Wesgro was established with a clear mandate to harness and promote Cape Town comparative advantages in trade export, investment, tourism and film with other countries across Africa and to drive small and medium enterprise which is the bedrock of any economic growth, “No foreign country can do that for you except we do it ourselves to grow our local economies and create jobs for the youths.”
He therefore, called on African leaders and politicians to design anti corruption mechanism and develop infrastructure including friendly policies for small businesses to survive.
“Governments in Africa must play its parts by doing what s right for business to grow. At Wesgro, we are happy with the results we are getting in the small and medium enterprises. We do business delegation for fresh engagements every month to sign partnership and we achieve between four to five agreements in every outing.”
Gamwo further advised stakeholders not to be too excited about the African Continent Free Trade Agreement saying that “it is not of much value to countries that are not producing. If you are not producing, the implication is that you will be absorbing products from producing countries because the products would be landing in your local markets duty free with less or no tax. That would kill your economy. It would kill economies that are not competitive.”
He added that logistics headache in Africa deserves better consideration by governments “African governments must address logistics challenges. For instance, it costs more to move goods within Africa than from China or Europe. That shouldn’t be so. Such situation rubbishes the positive aspects of AcFTA. Ports are congested,” Gamwo stated.
Earlier, in his welcome address, South Africa Consul General in Lagos, His Excellency, Darkey Africa, admonished small business owners and entrepreneurs to take full advantage of the opportunity presented by the Wesgro to sign partnership agreements with the visiting South African entrepreneurs and grow their businesses beyond the shores of Nigeria. He stated that both South and Nigeria governments will continuously harmonise its age long relationship to develop policies that will be favourable to entrepreneurs.
Many companies- products and service providers-from South Africa were available, throughout the week, sharing, displaying and explaining their products, competence and areas of collaborations to their Nigerian counterparts.