The business world is at a point in history where it is paramount to concentrate on what the Covid-19 crisis entails, the risks and the opportunities a recovery presents.
So far, Africa accounts for just a fraction of total cases of the disease which has infected more than 10 million people worldwide with over 500,000 death.
But then it just might be the hardest hit economically.
Despite these, the Norwegian African Business Association, NABA sees opportunities for economic recovery in Nigeria.
In a virtual conversation with members led by its CEO, Eivind Fjeldstad and monitored by The Energy Intelligence, Norway’s Ambassador in Nigeria, Jens-Petter Kjemprud spoke on the available opportunities in the different sectors of the nation’s economy viz a viz the recently introduced Economic Sustainability Plan, ESP.
To avert a drastic decline in economic growth, the government had announced a stimulus package as part of its post COVID-19 economic sustainability plan.
It promised a stimulus spending package of about $5.9 billion with the aim of keeping economic contraction to minus 0.59 per cent.
According to him, this is because the government is trying to turn the crisis into opportunities and introduce incentives to stimulate the economy.
In his words, “In the Plan, there are numbers of areas given priority in order to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
One of the main emphasis is on import substitution in which Nigeria keeps its borders to the neighboring countries closed.
There are also efforts to encourage buying “Made in Nigeria” goods as the President gave the instruction to the committee when they started, “we must produce what we eat and eat what we produce.
All these projects would be supported by sourcing local materials, local labours, minimal imports and local manufacturing, ” he added.
Speaking further, he said despite the emphasis on local content in the Plan, it presents an opportunity to Norwegian businesses who have shown interest in the economy of the country.
“The limitations are there because of the very strong local content policy, funding of the different sectors and limitations caused by Covid-19.
We already have the local content board and local content in many of the projects but I think there will be a lot of flexibility on that.
It sends some economic signals to the local market but they will need technology, knowledge and people to assist in many of these projects.
Possibilities for Norwegian companies are in the oil and gas sector, Renewable energy, Housing, Banking and IT sectors.
There is also need for equipment, training and everything else in the sectors.
On the Solar Homes Systems, I already talked with the Vice President’s office that this is one of the areas Norwegian companies might be interested in.
It’s really a sector to follow up on so that we can communicate whatever comes up from the Nigerian side.
We are also waiting for the PIB which probably will be even more important than any plan made by any government.
There is also a call in the Parliament to renationalise the Power sector.
What the government is looking at is to renationalise the Distribution Companies and gain total control of the sector which is only producing less than 4,000 MW at the moment because there is no transmission line in certain areas and loss on certain transmission lines.
Will it be renationalised? I’m not sure but the privatization has not been a success,” he added.
In an interview with The Energy Intelligence, the Ambassador said Norwegian companies have an annual turnaround of about $20 billion in the Nigerian market.
” These are investments made for improving the quality and efficiency of the Nigerian oil and gas sector.
The most important thing is that we have common interest and benefit in improving the oil sector,” he added.
The Norwegian-African Business Association, NABA is a 150 member strong group that comprises companies from energy, shipping, technology, industry, agribusiness, consumer goods, real estate and tourism.
It hosts the annual Nordic-African Business Summit, one of Northern Europe’s leading investor/business conferences focusing exclusively on African markets, gathering 400 delegates from over 35 countries every fall.
It is linked to more than 4000 European companies/investors doing business across the African continent through its membership of the European Business Council for Africa and the Mediterranean (EBCAM)