Nigeria in Focus seminar, bridging the gap between Nigeria and Norway, hosted by Mettle Consult and NNCC

The Roadshow – A Summary

On October 25, 2017, The Nigerian Norwegian Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with Mettle Consult hosted the first ever seminar that focused on strengthening the trade and investment ties between Nigeria and Norway. Termed the “Nigeria in Focus” Roadshow, it was an all day event, separated into two focus sessions. The first session focused on Trade and Investments and the Second session focused on Oil and Gas.

Trade and Investment Forum

The Trade and Investments forum explored possibilities between Nigeria and Norway and the fiscal, sectoral and legal frameworks. Speakers included the Norwegian Secretary of State, Ms. Tone Skogen, the Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria (Retired) Rolf Ree, Director of States Coordination, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) Hajiya Ladi Katagum, Gbenga Biobaku, Managing Partner, Gbenga Biobaku and Co.; Managing Director, Statoil Nigeria Ltd’s Heine Melkevik, and others.

How can Norway participate?

“Norway has a highly industrial sector, and in order to continue to attract international business relationships, we (Norway) must strive to improve government cooperation. Norway has many leading companies in the field of renewable energy, and is at the forefront in the Blue Economy and aims to continue to lead in ocean technology. Nigeria is a coastal region like Norway and the ocean has to be used and managed in a sustainable way to preserve food production. There are many similarities between the economies of Nigeria and Norway and we need to work together to create a vibrant environment for successful job creation and sustainable economy” – State Secretary Ms. Tone Skogen.

Is the environment in Nigeria enabling?

The predominant theme revolved around how Nigeria and Norway could further engage in business partnership and the opportunities across sectoral synergies between the two countries. Hajiya Katagum provided detailed and extensive information on how the current Nigerian government is working hard to attract and promote investments, “Nigeria is ready for business and my organization (NIPC) works to create an enabling environment to encourage and facilitate further cooperation. Nigeria is not the easiest place to do business, historically, but the government is working hard to enable the ease of doing business. One example is the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) that was established in July 2016 to remove bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria” – Hajiya Katagum.

The Nordic countries can further develop their business partnerships on the African continent because “Africa is a continent of opportunity, and Nigeria in particular. Over time, Nigeria has suffered a loss of investment and experienced some challenges such as corruption, but there are recent processes put in place to curtail corruption and make the country a progressively easier place to start and grow your business” – Gbenga Biobaku.

Understanding the local content is important for success

As with all countries in the world, when looking to do business, there is a need to understand the local context and have reliable partners with whom you work with. Mettle Consult works with companies to facilitate business and investments in West Africa, with Nigeria as a primary country of interest. An organization like the Nigerian Norwegian Chamber of Commerce (NNCC)—which is the first of its kind as a bilateral Nigerian-Norwegian Chamber of commerce—assists companies in navigating and ‘clarifying the noise ‘ in the Nigerian market. Through the reliable channels they provide, Norwegian businesses have found their way to getting information and valuable local market knowledge. “Norwegian companies need a guide to find its way around investment in Nigeria” – Ambassador Rolf Ree (Rtd). In talking about his success in Nigeria, Endre Opdal of HotelOnline credited the NNCC and stated that the “NNCC was instrumental in connecting him with local advisers and the local market.”

Looking ahead

It is important to note that Nigeria and Norway have engaged in trade since the late 1800s, a trade that endures to this day, as Nigeria is Norway’s biggest trading partner on the African continent. However, “the trade relationship between Nigeria and Norway is largely one-sided in favor of Norway.” One of the core aims of the Roadshow and Trade and Investment segment is to further promote bi-lateral trade and investment relationship between Nigeria and Norway.

On advising on how to be successful in Nigeria, Heine Melkevik of Statoil stated “come into Nigeria early and start early. There is a significant potential for energy growth and there are interesting potentials in offshore gas. Nigeria is a country that is too big to ignore and there is evidence and commitment on the government side to support the ease of doing business.”