In a captivating morning event orchestrated by the Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce (NSACC), Nigeria’s economic landscape and the array of business opportunities it holds were brought into sharp focus. The event, made possible by the generous sponsorship of Stanbic IBTC Bank, a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, gathered a distinguished panel of industry experts to provide valuable insights and practical guidance, creating a profound learning experience for all participants.
The NSACC’s Vice Chairman, Ajibola Olomola, opened the event at the prestigious Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos, emphasising the forum’s primary objective. The event aimed to delve into the intricacies of the global economy, spotlighting current trends and exploring the potential for technological advancements to drive macroeconomic development and business prospects in Nigeria.
Olomola underscored the pivotal role of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria’s economy, noting that they contribute over 50% of employment and employ 78% of the nation’s workforce. He stressed the importance of policy measures that support both local and international participation, as this is essential for bolstering foreign exchange liquidity and assisting SMEs in navigating economic shifts.
“SMEs are the engine of growth in the economy, contributing over 50 per cent in employment and employing 78 per cent of the workforce.”
During the panel discussions, Muyiwa Oni, Head of Equity Research, West Africa, Standard Bank Group, highlighted several factors influencing Nigeria’s macroeconomic development, including population growth, foreign exchange rates, security concerns, and the challenges associated with a weak legacy infrastructure. He emphasized that, despite these challenges, unexplored business opportunities still exist. Addressing issues such as inflation, oil dependency, foreign exchange policies, and security is essential to unlocking this potential.
Seun Ogundolapo, Head of Trade, Transactional Banking at Stanbic IBTC Bank, focused on the issue of foreign exchange rate devaluation, stressing its critical role in international trade. She noted that foreign exchange is the lifeblood of any economy and serves as a gateway for international trade and investment. Nigeria, she argued, must implement strategies that enhance foreign exchange liquidity, promote stability, and attract foreign investors to sustain economic growth and competitiveness in the global market.
The discussions also highlighted the significance of the agricultural sector in Nigeria’s economic growth. Strategies such as backward integration and infrastructure development were emphasized to improve the sector’s resilience and competitiveness.
Folake Ademiluyi, Head of Power and Energy, Client Coverage at Stanbic IBTC Bank, addressed the recent fuel price hike and the imperative need for a well-planned energy transition. She advocated for integrating sustainable and renewable energy sources into the energy mix to mitigate the impact of fuel price fluctuations and work towards a more eco-friendly energy future. Local companies, she argued, should adopt strategic approaches for import substitution to stimulate infrastructure support and energy transition, creating a safe and profitable investment environment.
Olajumoke Bello, Head of Enterprise Banking at Stanbic IBTC Bank, highlighted the role of agriculture in economic growth and commended government efforts to drive value addition in the sector. She stressed that adopting suitable strategies would enhance local production and reduce dependence on imports, calling for a collaborative approach involving the private sector and government to drive economic growth.
The event concluded with a collective vision to address economic challenges, encourage innovation, and foster adaptability in the business sector, all with the aim of achieving sustained growth and prosperity in Nigeria. The insights shared during this event provided attendees with a comprehensive understanding of Nigeria’s economic landscape and strategies to navigate the evolving economic environment, setting the stage for a brighter economic future in the nation.