President/CEO, Emperor Chris Baywood Ibe, says it’s time for Nigerian firms to compete in Africa. It has emerged that lots of business opportunities await Nigerian firms overseas. Businessman, Emperor Chris Baywood Ibe, broke this good news recently when he said there were enormous business opportunities in most African countries than anyone could imagine.
Emperor Baywood Ibe, the President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Baywood Continental Limited (BCL), made the declaration shortly after rounding off his four-week tour of five Eastern and Southern African countries where he had gone to prospect for business. He said he was surprised that lots of business opportunities awaited Nigerian firms that could dare to take the advantage, emphasising that they would do better abroad with Federal Government’s support.
Describing his experience as “insightful and revealing”, he disclosed that he travelled to South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania for the business. He also informed that he had fruitful discussions with Presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania as well as Joyce Mujuru, the Vice President, Republic of Zimbabwe among others.
“It as a thrilling and rewarding experience,” he began. “At some point, my team and I decided to go overseas to prospect for business opportunities. First, we went to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania and then South Africa. Everything about the trip was a resounding success. We had audience with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, and Joyce Mujuru, Vice President, of Zimbabwe and top government officials in other countries.
“Having grown as a frontline company of choice in our core areas of business, we decided to play in Africa. This is because we see tremendous opportunities in those countries and we know that the best way to be there is to identify opportunities through the establishment of the right contact within the upper echelon of government and create a synergy with our reputable local partners. In all the countries we visited, they were convinced about our expertise. We let them know what we had done, what we can do, what we are doing and what we want to do. So far, we have made inroads into those areas. Our hosts are very happy with what we can do. To that extent, I’ feel encouraged and we are following up with discussions with our local partners.”
He said his organisation would delight in taking advantage in line with its vision and tying up relationships with the respective governments of those countries.
He noted: “It became evident everywhere we visited that there are immense opportunities. We intend to harness those opportunities through purposefulness and clear-entry strategies available to us.”
He also said it was possible for Nigeria and Nigerians to have the right synergy with other African countries to make Africa a proud continent, noting: “That is what I keep telling everyone I meet. I told the same thing to Presidents Zuma and Kikwete. I reiterated that African remains our only continent – that we Africans have our destiny in our hands. Therefore, we have to develop Africa ourselves. We have the capacity to do that; if we don’t, Africa will remain neo-colonised economically by the so-called superpowers and very soon it might be an extinguished continent. Therefore, the only way to prevent that from happening is to use what we have now to get what we want; meaning that we have to play by the rule of the game. My message to Africans is that Africans must develop Africa. If we do that, we are going to eliminate poverty and impoverishment among our people. We are going to create a lot of awareness and empower our people politically, economically and educationally. We will be competing better among the comity of nations.”
Emperor Baywood Ibe expressed optimism that with Federal Government’s support, Nigerian companies would rule the African business landscape in no distant future.
“During our visit, I saw huge and immense potentials in those countries. What we required here is Federal Government’s support. For instance, South Korea supports her own companies – Hyundai, Daewoo and Samsung. These companies were chosen by the government of South Korea to trade abroad and export their capacities and expertise which, hitherto, were not strong enough. With the support of their government, those companies have become strong economic powers around the world. The profit they take to their home countries has a lot of impact on their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Nigeria can offer us a similar support to export our capacities to other African countries and beyond. In doing so, we will be developing those countries through capacity building and human capital development. We will take our people along, train and employ people in those countries too. We will generate revenue and bring it back and also make a lot of impact on the country’s GDP.”
He believes that Nigerian companies have what it takes to trade abroad, but need the right support to do well. “They need to be in the right place at the right time and the support of government. For us at BCL, we want to be involved in the affairs of Africa because we desire Africa that is devoid of conflict; we desire Africa that is devoid of turmoil; we desire Africa that is prosperous.
“When I met the vice president of Zimbabwe, I told her that people like us are passionate about Africa and should be given the opportunity to speak at African heads of states forum. We will tell them the opportunities and obstacles we see as business men; we will show them what we are seeing which they are not seeing.”
While expressing his belief that Nigeria had a lot to gain if her corporate citizens traded abroad, he disclosed that his company’s campaign had a lot of political and image laundering implication for Nigeria. “When I got to Kenya”, he recalled, “I was glad to hear that two Nigerian companies were already trading there. They alluded to the fact that this was because of the existing cordial relationship between Nigeria and Kenya. When we join the duo, definitely, Kenyans’ perception of Nigeria will change. It is also going to be the same thing in all other countries we are going into. What that means is that we are going to be Nigeria’s good ambassadors; we are going to launder the country’s image in many ways.
“However, this will come with serious challenges. To trade abroad, one needs to develop one’s business at home because going abroad requires a lot of money, effort and manoeuvring. It is not going to be easy if the company is not home-grown. Therefore, the company has to know its onions. That is exactly what we have done because here in Nigeria, we are known, seen and heard. We cannot be wished away in the Nigerian oil and gas sphere.
“Over the years, we have done projects and have been involved in projects that took a lot of initiative. Today, for instance, we are building the largest gas pipeline in the country which is 42 inches x 45km. This has never been done before in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. The largest before now was the 40 inches facility done by Wilbros some 20 years ago. Given our capacity and what we have been able to accomplish, our clients are happy with us. We have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that we have the capacity and muscle to deliver on promise. This is the assurance I gave everywhere I visited.”
While reiterating his call on more Nigerian firms to play in Africa, Emperor Baywood Ibe urged them to remain focused, warning: “There is a high tendency for them to lose money if they fail to do that. They have to ensure that they are well established and convinced that they have the muscle for overseas trade. They have to think through the idea and be convinced that they can do that. In addition, they must have the right people and understand the working environment.”
It would be recalled that Baywood Continental was founded 25 years ago with offices in Nigeria, Ghana and Canada. It is active in construction in the oil and gas industry but has spread to engineering, procurement, construction, installation, commissioning, operations and maintenance of major oil and gas facilities, including flow stations, gas stations, gas plants, major pipelines and onshore and offshore terminals. Recently, it added helicopter chartering/acquisition for offshore support services for corporate bodies through its subsidiary– – Tropical Arctic Logistics Ltd (TAL).