Spotlight Nigeria: Enhancing relations between Nigeria and France

Friends of Nigeria (FON) organized the Spotlight Nigeria 2018 which held on  October 4th – 5th at the Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Centre, Paris. The event offered a platform for business leaders, companies and investors to discuss opportunities and forge partnerships related to investments in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy.

Over 150 business leaders and investors from seven (7) countries attended, with most from France and Nigeria. Spotlight Nigeria 2018 was co-organized with the Embassy of Nigeria in Paris under the patronage of the Ambassador of Nigeria to France, H.E Dr. Modupe.

The 2-day event featured top quality round table discussions that addressed concrete opportunities and the challenges of doing business in Nigeria, interactive Q&A sessions, detailed presentations that provided clarity on different administrative issues in the Nigerian system and also matchmaking sessions where Companies had the chance to discuss concrete partnership opportunities and projects.

Day one began with a welcome address by Mr. John Okoro, the President of Friends of Nigeria followed by opening remarks from Her Excellency, Dr. Modupe Irele, Ambassador of Nigeria to France, and Mr. Patrice Anato, Member of the French Parliament. It was once again reiterated that to make it big in Africa, one cannot ignore Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy.

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                            Mr. John Okoro, the President of Friends of Nigeria, and Dr. Modupe Irele, Ambassador of Nigeria to France         

The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Andrew Nevin – Chief Economist at PwC Nigeria with a succinct presentation that highlighted on the present reality of the Nigerian economy, based on factual data, focusing especially on opportunities outside Oil and Gas, as it relates to the theme of the conference.

Dr. Andrew Nevin – Chief Economist at PwC Nigeria

The plenaries began with the Finance and Investment session which was moderated by Mr. Nicholas Norbrook of the Africa Report and had speakers like, M.Etienne Giros, Executive Chairman, Conseil Français des Investisseurs en Afrique(CIAN); Dr. Anino Emuwa, Founder Avandis Consulting; M.Olivier Noel, General Manager FBN Bank UK (Paris Branch); and M.Stephane Lecoq, Director at Business France. These speakers gave a top-down holistic background to investing in Nigeria vis-a-vis the opportunities and the risks.

On the Power and Energy plenary, moderated by Dolapo Kukoyi, Partner, DETAIL Moderator Commercial Solicitors, Nigeria and featured panelists; Frédéric Cheve, Country Director VERGNET Nigeria; Paul-François Cattier, Vice President Economic Development Africa & Middle East; Dr. Bankole Allibay, CEO Translantic Development Limited, the panelists reached and re-echoed a consensus that Nigeria’s oil and gas sector is not representative of its’s potential. Oil and Gas contributed less than 10 percent to the GDP in Q1 of 2018, with non-traditional sectors and services contributing the most to the GDP and to the economy.

On the Real Estate, Construction and Hospitality Plenary, moderated by Ayuli Jemide Lead Partner, DETAIL Commercial Solicitors and featured panelists; Hakeem Ogunniran, Founder/CEO at Eximia Realty Co Ltd and Home4Me Nig. Ltd and Chief Mrs. Taiwo Taiwo, CEO, LEXAM Investments and the  Agriculture and FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) Plenary, moderated by Lehlé Baldé Business Day Nigeria and featured panelists: Jean-Pierre Lucas, President & Chairman, MarlInvest; Olabode Abikoye, Director, Bank of Agriculture (BOA) Nigeria; François Burgaud, Président, ADEPTA & Co-President, MEDEF Agro-task Force, the panelists  affirmed  a known fact that Nigeria’s over 190 Million population size presents massive opportunity for investments across agriculture, real estate and construction services. With a growing population and  an emerging middle class consumer demand remains on the increase, presenting opportunities for foreign investments and strategic partnerships in food production and processing, consumer goods, services, and infrastructure. There are already cases of successful partnerships and joint ventures, and some of the companies involved attended the event.

On the Digital, Technology and Education Plenary moderated by Rufai Oseni, Inspiration FM, Lagos and featured panelists:; Wale Gbadamosi Oyekanmi, Founder and CEO, Dare. Win; Femi Longe, Co-founder, Co-Creation Hub; Prof. Abiola Awosika-Fapetu; Founder OASIS Nigeria; and Clement Aganahi, Founder & CEO, ENSIATE(represented by Brahim Ouassou), the panelists pointed out that, Nigeria is unarguably Africa’s leading technology space with the highest concentration of digital and technology hubs in Sub-saharan Africa growing at an annual rate of 139%. Lagos Nigeria counts more hubs and programmes than any other city across the African continent with leading organizations like Google and Facebook setting up hubs in the city. Nigeria has the largest mass of skilled tech-savvy young professionals and entrepreneurs in Sub-saharan Africa, offering an investment ready climate for foreign investors in the digital and technology space.

On the Creative Industry Plenary moderated by  Bridget Ugwe, International Journalist for Africa news and featured panelists; Serge Noukoue, Founder Nollywood Week Paris; Oluneye Oluwole, Founder & CEO, Africa Hub International (AHI); Francis Nebot, Founder & CEO, IFIND; Betty Sulty-Johnson, Vice President, Content Distribution, TraceTV, the panelist reached a known consensus that Nigeria’s Nollywood is the 2nd largest producer in terms of volume globally Nigeria ’s Creative industry is not exploited to its potential yet by French and European investors and Nigeria’s. Investors can take advantage of the investment, partnership and knowledge sharing opportunities that exist.

▪ There is an increasing appetite for Nigerian companies to expand across the West African region, and indeed other parts of Africa. Increased Franco-Nigerian business relations could also increase the expansion of Nigerian companies across the region allowing for greater regional integration and partnerships. This trend is on a steady increase.

▪ Nigeria still leads in remittances from the Diaspora into sub-saharan Africa with $22.3 billion in 2017 out of the total $37.8 billion for the entire region. Nigerian professionals and entrepreneurs in Diaspora have a huge role to play, to ensure that the majority of remittances are targeted towards investments, supporting local enterprises and development initiatives.

▪ The Nigerian government needs to intensify its efforts in improving the country’s international image in order to attract the amount of foreign investments needed for the economy. Foreign investors already present in Nigeria are of the opinion that there is a misrepresentation of the actual state of challenges and opportunities. Platforms and initiatives like Spotlight Nigeria contribute towards the improvement of Nigeria’s reputation, but the government has an important role to play in sensitizing investors and providing the right information, processes, and policies that would increasingly entice and attract foreign investors.

▪Trade between France and Nigeria stood at 3.6 Billion dollars in 2017 and Nigeria remains the largest trading partner of France in Sub-saharan Africa. There is an increasing appetite for partnership between French and Nigerian companies. Nigerian Business Leaders and Investors call upon the French Authorities to ease the arduous and lengthy processes for obtaining business visas to France from Nigeria. The rate of visa refusals is still a cause for alarm and could be an impediment to long term business relations, as potential partners would begin to look elsewhere to Countries that have better visa friendly processes for Nigerian business leaders and investors.

A number of partnership opportunities were discussed and consummated during the Spotlight Nigeria 2018.

Indeed, it can be said that the event engendered “partnership that works”.

About Friends of Nigeria (FON)

FON is a non-profit organization registered in France which is involved in facilitating the access of Nigerian professionals and entrepreneurs in Europe to business and professional development opportunities and promoting Nigeria’s attractiveness to French and European companies and investors.


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