Mirabelle Esang from the Press Team caught up with Unity Ivongbe in Paris to discuss the upcoming Spotlight Nigeria 2018.
Unity is the Director of Projects for Friends of Nigeria (FON) and also the Project Manager for Spotlight Nigeria 2018. He has been involved in managing projects and events for over ten (10) years. He has a Master’s degree in Project Management and Business Development from Skema Business School Paris and is a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and holds the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and the Prince 2 certifications.
What is the mission of the Spotlight Nigeria event?
Nigeria stands on the threshold of what could be the greatest transformation in the history of the African continent. Currently the largest economy on the African continent, it is projected by the UN to become the 3rd most populous country in the world by 2050 ahead of the United States of America. Nigeria is a country that cannot be overlooked because of its demographic and economic potentials.
Spotlight Nigeria as the name goes, was launched in order beam a limelight on investment and business opportunities in Nigeria for foreign investors and companies. The Spotlight Nigeria event holds in Paris and offers a platform for French (and European) companies to access first hand investment opportunities in Nigeria and to meet with decision makers from the Nigerian economy, both private sector and public sector participants. These interactions will also foster bilateral economic relations between Nigeria and France
Tell us more about the Spotlight Nigeria 2018.
This year’s event which is the third edition is happening at a very auspicious time in the history of the relationship that France and Nigeria share. During the year, specifically in the month of July, the French President Emmanuel Macron will be going to Nigeria for the first time since he came into office and will be spending a couple of days where he is scheduled to meet the Nigerian president and address the joint chamber of the National Assembly alongside other meetings. There has also been several visits by the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to France since he resumed office as President, the recent one being in November 2017.
Spotlight Nigeria 2018 seeks to further consolidate the outcome of these interactions by ensuring that the cordial bilateral relations between both countries snowball into concrete business transactions and projects between companies from both countries.
Would there be any sectors of focus at the Spotlight Nigeria 2018?
The event will spotlight on sectors in which the Nigerian economy is seeking for foreign investors and particularly sectors in which French Companies and investors can add value and which is in line with the French Government’s export strategy.
Some of these sectors to be covered during the plenary and panel sessions include Agriculture, Manufacturing and Processing, Power, Mining and Metals, Tourism and Creative Industry, Infrastructure, Education and the Financial Industry.
The B2B meetings and match-making sessions will cover a larger spectrum of sectors and industries. These meetings will bring together companies and investors from both countries for the purpose of discussing concrete business opportunities and partnerships.
Are there private sector and public sector participants to be expected from Nigeria?
Yes, our focus is to ensure that all stakeholders are well represented. You know, the business community needs the government just as much as the government needs the business community for these kind of interactions, so we expect the government both from the executive arm as well as sectoral regulators at the event. We will also be expecting the local business community from mid-sized companies to fledging SMEs who are seeking international partnerships both for their local business development and also for export market prospects. We are working with a couple of umbrella organizations and trade groups to ensure that we are able to ensure the best representation that will lead to valuable exchanges at the event.
What do we expect to see at Spotlight Nigeria 2018 that is different from previous editions?
The expectations for this year’s edition are very high and we are working towards more concrete outcomes from the event; concrete in terms of signing of MOUs, partnership agreements, and preliminary and advanced discussions on concrete project and business opportunities. The goal is to ensure that it’s not another gabfest, like some other conferences, but a forum where people meet and initiate new projects towards mutual benefits. That’s our running KPI for this year’s edition and we are working around the clock to ensure that we deliver on this promise.
A number of MOUs and Agreements are scheduled to be announced and signed during the Spotlight Nigeria 2018. There will be a number of case studies presented of successful partnerships between French Companies and Nigerian Companies on concrete projects. These companies will be participating to share their stories.
We will also have a session at the event that Spotlights on Nigerian entrepreneurs running successful businesses in France; businesses turning over several millions of euros annually and creating employment opportunities for the working class here.
What’s in it for companies that attend Spotlight Nigeria 2018?
Companies that attend this event will meet new contacts/partners for the development of their businesses both in Nigeria and in France. They will have the opportunity to meet key government stakeholders who are also critical players in international business. They will hear first-hand of the relevant laws to note in their internationalization drive. In short, I would say that Spotlight Nigeria is the only opportunity to have all the important stakeholders in the France Nigeria Business ecosystem, all in one room.