• Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Polish PM leads 30 firms in search of opportunities in Nigeria


Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, is in Nigeria at the head of a delegation of 30 companies in search of opportunities in the country’s growing economy.

This is a fall-out of Nigeria’s huge market and the growing confidence in the ongoing economic reforms.

The Prime Minister, who arrived Abuja yesterday, will launch on Friday April 12, 2013 the “Go Africa” programme, which will facilitate Polish investments in the country.

The companies, representative of some sectors of Poland’s economy, are engaged in defence, energy, oil and gas, mining, transport, maritime, construction and building materials, furniture, agriculture and food industry, IT services and consultancy. All have indicated commercial interest in the Nigerian economy.

Tomas Ostaszewicz, director for promotion and bilateral co-operation at the Polish Ministry of Economy, told Businessday that “We want to start a programme called ‘Go Africa’ that will be operated by the Polish investment agency with the help of the ministry of economy. It will be officially announced during the visit of Prime Minister Tusk to Nigeria. The general message for Polish companies will be you should get to know this continent because there are lots of opportunities.”

Polish businesses are increasingly looking beyond familiar borders i.e., Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania and Ukraine. Last March Kulczyk Oil Ventures, an international upstream oil and gas company, through Neconde Energy Limited, a consortium, acquired oil mining licence (OML) 42 for $585m; $435 million was paid by consortium partners and the remaining $150 million was funded through Neconde debt financing. The consortium bought the 45 percent stake of Shell, Total and Agip in the onshore oil well.

Kulczyk Investments, the major shareholder in Kulczyk Oil Ventures, is owned by Jan Kulczyk, the wealthiest Pole. Known for promoting Africa at every business forum urging Polish companies to look at the continent, Kulczyk is also drilling for oil in far-flung countries like Kazakhstan.

In the same vein, Polish businesses are exploring new, more



distant markets. In the past it was easy for Polish companies to export to the EU but over-exposure to a single and maturing market coupled with the crisis in the Eurozone make emerging markets like Africa, interesting. Ostaszewicz contends that “For us it is a clear indicator that we should look overseas. That’s why we are interested in Africa, a promising and growing economy”.

Polish exporters are enjoying the benefits of a flexible domestic currency and geography; food and furniture attracted a quarter of FDI in 2009. Polish investment in food and beverages increased to 25 percent in 2009 from 8 percent in 2008.

Two trade delegations, from central Poland and the western Polish region of Wielkopolskie, have been to Nigeria in the past few months. According to Przemyslaw Niesiolowski, Poland’s ambassador to Nigeria “Both trade delegations were quite happy with what they have seen in Nigeria, the contacts they have made and potentials that they see and between Nigeria business partners”.

KGM Polska Miedź, a mining company, ventured into sub-Sahara Africa in 1999 but liquidated its investment in Congo DRC in 2009, 10 years after it established an affiliate in the country.

Nowy Styl, a furniture company, made and installed seats for two of the ten stadiums that hosted the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Nowy Styl installed 40,000 chairs (92 percent of the seats) for Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit and 64,000 (97 percent of the seats) for the Green Point stadium in Cape Town.

Polish companies’ high degree of regionalisation is being substituted with internationalisation through a “go global” strategy promoted by the Trade and Investment Promotion Schemes (TIPSs) in Polish embassies.

Though most Polish firms are yet to exhaust export potentials (mainly machinery and transport equipment, intermediate manu

factured goods, miscellaneous manufactured goods), location, in the heart of Europe, is not generating inter-regional trade to boost growth.

A 2010 survey by the Institute for Market, Consumption and Business Cycles Research (IBRKK), Poland, and the Vale Columbia Centre on Sustainable International Investment (VCC) noted that “the process of Polish multinationals’ expansion, especially in such distant (both geographically and culturally) markets as Asia and South America, could be accelerated by many-sided support from the government and public institutions.”

Solaris Bus & Coach, one of the companies on the economic delegation to Nigeria, is transiting from the regional to the global league. Germany and central Europe, the league they used to know, is changing. Solaris expanded into India in April 2007. It is estimated that the company invested $181.8 million in a Greenfield motor vehicle factory. However, cheap labour to the east of Poland and strategic assets to the west ,may still prove crucial as they explore SSA – part of the success of Polish business is captured by the much touted advert slogan: German quality at Polish price.