The Ambassador of Finland Mrs. Riitta Korpivaara made a trade promoting focused visit to the Nigeria’s business center Lagos on 1st-3rd July. Lagos is a sharp contrast compared to Northern Nigeria and attracts Finnish business too and Finpro has a trade office and Finland a Honorary Consulate there. Understanding this market of almost 20 million Nigerians, looking for business opportunities and finding new contacts is essential for our Embassy and Finpro.
The trip was highly successful and as usual during trade promoting visits the schedule was very busy. The program started with a visit to Finpro Trade Center and future TF-happenings were designed in the meeting. Most important of these will be a seminar in Helsinki and Tampere on 22nd August arranged for Finnish companies interested in Nigeria and EU-Nigeria Business Forum in Lagos on 3rd to 4th October. You can receive more information about both events from Finpro’s Olu Raheem, firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the highlights of the visit was a dinner for representatives of Finnish companies hosted by her Excellency. Having constant contact to the companies is important for Team Finland and especially for the Embassy – this way we can have a wide view of Nigeria’s economic situation, the realities of Finnish trade to Nigeria and help companies with for example market access barriers.
Another highlight of the visit was undoubtedly a dinner with the Finland- Nigerian Association. They are a Lagos based association whose members mainly have studied in Finland or have other connections to Finland. Finland’s Honorary Consul Dr. Kola K. Akinroye has been the Secretary General of Finland- Nigerian Association for many years and attended the dinner. The Ambassador naturally also visited Dr. Akinroye’s office where Honorary Consulate is located; Dr. Akinroye’s contacts can be found from the Embassy’s webpage.
Every official Lagos visit naturally includes meetings with the state officials and the Ambassador made courtesy calls to the Honorable Commissioner for Commerce and Industry Mrs. Shola Oworu and Honorable Commissioner for Agriculture Mr. Gbolahan Lawal. Honorable Commissioner for Commerce and Industry was happy to introduce to the Ambassador the state’s many new projects. These include among others building of Lekki Free Trade Zone and Eko Atlantic City district and PATH program, which is aiming to renew power, agriculture, transportation and housing sectors. For example the PATH sectors will offer many possibilities for Finnish business too. The Honorable Commissioner for agriculture discussed with her Excellency about how Lagos could become self-sufficient with food. At the moment the Metropolitan Lagos of around 20 million people imports 90% of the food products!
The ambassador met with Finpro also the management of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce Goodie M. Ibru, a successfull businessman himself, emphasized Lagos’ potential for business. He told the profits there can easily be 30-35 % which is also shown by market researches. Lagos state is part of an attractive market area with Ogun and Ondo states and is a great base for starting business in Africa. Lagos Chamber of Commerce is active in developing the business climate in the area and was founded already in 1884.
The Ambassador also met banking industry and the Managing Director of PUNCH Newspaper Mr. Demola Oshinobi. PUNCH is one of the most notable newspapers in Nigeria and he was able to provide excellent information about Lagos’ development.
Lagos is in many ways different compared to couple of million inhabitant’s Abuja where our Embassy is located. Abuja is a planned city and was built in the 70’s and 80’s as Lagos had inevitably grown too big to efficiently handle both the administration and growing business. Abuja’s traffic is in Nigerian scale very effective but Lagos urgently needs infrastructure development which we also clearly noticed while sitting in traffic jams. As a matter of fact Lagos’ growth didn’t stop when the capital was moved in 1991, it rather just accelerated. The city is totally different compared to the insecure view of Nigeria easily gathered from the news in Finland – it is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, the business is booming and draws a lot of foreign interest.