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Q&A with Muyiwa Adeseyoju, managing director, DHL Express Nigeria
Nigeria’s economy has been hard hit by the fall in the oil price. How should foreign business people view the current state of affairs?
It is prudent for foreign investors to be cautious, but with the huge potential of the Nigerian economy/market, they should be optimistic. The Nigerian people are naturally resilient, so the current economic challenges will soon pass, especially with appropriate measures being put together to diversify the economy.
Various initiatives to diversify the Nigerian economy are currently underway. Which sector, according to you, holds the greatest untapped potential?
The two biggest sectors when it comes to diversifying the Nigerian economy and taking the country to the next level, are agriculture and solid minerals. Agriculture cannot be over-emphasised, as it presents the opportunity for Nigeria to be self-reliant on food, meat, fish and crop production. This will save the country massive amounts in foreign exchange, and create employment, especially in agribusiness.
Nigeria is also abundantly blessed with solid minerals. Tapping these resources can only boost economic activities, in terms of employment generation and foreign exchange earnings, which will in turn improve the country’s foreign reserves, balance of payments and GDP.
Although Nigeria’s e-commerce industry is still young, it is showing promise. What is needed for further growth?
With more companies springing up on e-commerce platforms and with the huge size of the retail business in Nigeria, the potential for online retail is massive. What is required is improved infrastructure and efficient and reliable payment systems.
What role should SMEs play in Nigeria’s economic development?
We see SMEs as the engines for growth, not only in Nigeria, but sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. We believe that helping SMEs to do business across borders and internationally will act as a catalyst – increasing their capacity to expand, raising the quality of products to international standards, and creating more employment opportunities in the country. The value chain will continue to grow, as government will also be able to earn more tax revenue from SME operations.
Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt are usually top of mind when people think about doing business in Nigeria. In which other cities are you seeing growth in commercial activity?
There are so many cities across the country with huge potential, and DHL is well positioned in all of them when it comes to taking advantage of the business opportunities.
In the future, logistics in Nigeria will be defined by the routes from Lagos to the east – through Ore, Benin, Onitsha, and so on – and from Lagos to the north, through either Ore, Akure, Owo, Okene, and Lokoja, or Ibadan, Ilorin, and Jebba.
Cities close to areas where solid minerals have been identified for future commercial quantity productions are also in focus. These are spread across the country.