As part of its contributions towards shaping the narrative and driving the discourse for a robust economy, Stren & Blan Partners, a full-service Commercial Law Firm, hosted a critically acclaimed Business Adaptability Summit on 24th October 2023, in collaboration with the Nigerian-German Chamber of Commerce (NGCC) and AHK.
The one-day event which focused on “Assessing Recent Policy Changes in Nigeria and Their Implications for Businesses” was held at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Ozumba Mbadiwe Way, Victoria Island, Lagos State. The event had in attendance industry experts and business executives.
The Opening Address was delivered by the Managing Partner of Stren & Blan Partners, Christian Aniukwu, who gave an introduction to the Firm and its expertise. He further highlighted the primacy of the event and its implications for businesses.
The Director General of the NGCC – Marylin Rapu, the President of the NGCC, and the Delegate of the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Nigeria (AHK) delivered their respective welcome addresses. Marylin underscored the significance of the event towards shaping the economy and establishing valuable collaborations between industry leaders. On his part, the President of the NGCC hinged on the need for businesses to adapt, especially in the face of multi-faceted challenges like Covid-19, the Russia-Ukraine War, the Israel-Palestine Crisis, the devaluation of the Naira, high inflation rate, among others.
The Delegate of the AHK, Timo Leyer noted Nigeria’s significance to Germany in terms of trade and spoke passionately about AHK’s commitment to making Nigeria, Germany’s biggest trade partner in the African continent.
Afterwards, there were fireside chats by Industry specialists both within and outside the Firm, on different subject matters.
In his session, the Founding Partner of the Firm, Amala Umeike spoke extensively on the “Policy Pulse and Macroeconomic Outlook from a Regulatory Perspective”. He highlighted policy inconsistency as a major challenge that businesses have to grapple with in Nigeria. He however noted that there was hope for relative stability in terms of policy, given the policy direction of the new Government. Also noting that while sweeping reforms are needed for economic growth, there was a need for the government to administer palliative measures in a bid to cushion the effects of the reforms on the populace.
He further highlighted that the reforms in the Foreign Exchange market as well as the fuel subsidy removal could potentially set Nigeria on the path of true economic recovery. He went on to state the significance of the Business Facilitation Act in terms of its commercial utility, and the need for Regulators to implement the provisions of the Act in their operations to create a more enabling environment for businesses.
By way of projections, he predicted that going by the statistics from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, the Agricultural sector would significantly contribute to driving economic growth and prosperity in Nigeria.
He also harped on the need for businesses to strengthen their compliance with relevant laws, as a way of staying out of trouble and ultimately improving productivity. He also preached the gospel of alternative and inexpensive ways of dispute resolution like third-party funding which has been introduced by the Arbitration and Mediation Act of 2023.
By way of recommendations for improvements for the economy, he suggested the sale of National Assets and “landmarks” that Nigeria does not necessarily need now. He also recommended the development of a true commitment to attracting Foreign Direct Investments.
He concluded by stating that Nigeria remains a dream investment destination with boundless potential for businesses.
The team Lead of the Firm’s Capital Market, Mergers and acquisitions, and Private Equity Department, Noble Obasi also spoke on Policy Changes Affecting Financial Services, Foreign Exchange, and Capital Markets. He specifically highlighted that opportunities abound in Nigeria’s emerging Fintech market, which businesses and investors can take advantage of.
On her part, the Partner heading the Firm’s Energy, Finance, and Infrastructure Department – Ozioma Agu, spoke extensively on policy changes affecting the oil and gas and energy sector investment landscape in Nigeria. She explored the transformative changes in the electricity industry, which were pioneered by the Electricity Act. She however observed that the problems of insecurity, oil theft, and pipeline vandalism, among others, threaten the energy sector in Nigeria. In view of this, she made a passionate case for the Government to prioritize security in the oil and gas production chain, to foster economic growth and progress in Nigeria. She went on to give recommendations such as making practical policies with practical consequences and providing one-stop centres for reducing bureaucracy and streamlining registrations and approval processes for investors.
The last session was led by the Team Lead in the Firm’s Tax, Labour, and Immigration Practice Group, Marvis Oduogu, who spoke on Policy Changes Affecting the Manufacturing Sector. In his speech, he highlighted the need for Businesses to invest in gaining knowledge of tax laws and requirements, to be abreast with the extent of their obligations.