Mr. Ahmed Bashir, Deputy British High Commissioner to Nigeria, speaking when he visited The Abuja Inquirer office last week
The Deputy British Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Ahmed Bashir, has said that many British companies are very interested in coming to Nigeria to do business, but are discouraged by a few factors and the way Nigeria is perceived abroad.
The British envoy said this when he visited the Headquarters of The Abuja Inquirer in Abuja last week.
According to him, a lot of British businesses and companies are willing to do business in Nigeria but are constrained by factors like ease of doing business, repatriation of funds out of Nigeria, the infrastructure deficit as well as corruption.
Said He: “There is a whole lot of interest from British companies to come and do business in Nigeria but there are concerns on the ease of doing business in the country and getting your money out. Foreign Exchange is a big source of concern to most of the businesses. Another big concern is the perception around corruption in Nigeria.
“We have had several cases of British companies who got local (Nigerian) partners to help them around and have been messed around by people they chose. Some of them come to realize that they get mugged for money rather than to make things happen. There are also (British) companies who have been unable to land deals because of the corruption thing,”.
He also pointed to what he calls Nigeria’s “wrong perception” abroad as another hindrance. “The wrong perception out there is huge,” Mr. Bashir points out, adding, “when you come into Nigeria you find out that it is not really that big. In my view, Nigeria needs a perception campaign, and it is not that expensive to do. I tell British companies that there are businesses out here and about companies that are thriving. And I believe they can succeed as well. Nigeria with a population of 180 million and large deposits of minerals has got potential that needs to be tapped, but it has to deal with the issues I have raised.” He further stated that, “in summary, ease of doing business, forex, infrastructure and the general poor perception are factors that need to be addressed for businesses to come in.
The envoy listed agriculture, education, oil and gas as some of the key areas that British companies are most interested in. “We are supporting infrastructure, agriculture, and education. Education is quite important in terms of helping people in Nigeria. One of the areas we are focusing on is bringing education to people in the Niger Delta” he said. “There is a bit of work going on in Education. We are trying to introduce a company to help make a difference there. It is an apprenticeship project to help the youths get some skills to eventually add value. But there are concerns about security.”
“There are lots of opportunities out there in the Delta and we think the locals can gain from that. Also, there are lots of opportunities in agriculture. A lot of the milk in the country are imported and I think there is a lot of value that can be harnessed. We are in currently in discussions with a few groups on how we can change the narrative and enhance the value change.