The Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) Richard Burge visited Nigeria on November 24-29, 2017 to inaugurate the Council’s new Country Head for Nigeria, Obinna Anyanwu, and oversee preparations for the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
The Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) Richard Burge visited Nigeria on November 24-29, 2017 to inaugurate the Council’s new Country Head for Nigeria, Obinna Anyanwu, and oversee preparations for the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
In an interview with Vanguard, he discussed the benefits of being a member of the CWEIC and the progress being made in investment in Nigeria.
The CWEIC exists to help businesses from Commonwealth nations trade and invest in each other.
It is in the process of setting up business hubs in every member country, with ones in the UK and Lagos, Nigeria already established.
These hubs will build on the benefits of trading with other Commonwealth countries to encourage more trade and investment.
These benefits include English as a shared language, a similar approach to legislation and regulations, and the common practice of enforcing contracts, which the CWEIC supports.
This `Commonwealth Advantage’ reduces the cost of doing business by 19% compared to trade with non-member nations, according to the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The CWEIC is also working with sub-sovereigns, organisations below national governments such as Lagos states, to help them create connections with and assist with the mobilization of businesses.
According to Burge, communication and collaboration between governments, organisations and businesses is key to making the country more investor friendly.
The membership of Lagos State government in the CWEIC, he said, would help create business discussion and develop a vgreater understanding of how business is working in the country.
Lagos was chosen for its position as one of the economic engines of Africa and for its well-established appetite for trade and business.
A growing middle-class community in Nigeria will also be good for business, said Burge, as an emerging economy moving rapidly towards industrialization is allowing people to save money and put it into pensions or other investments, raising domestic capital.
He warned, however, that there remained global prejudice about the country.
Its reputation is one of being upfront and `loud’, perpetuating an exuberant business environment.
Another obstacle is the prevalence of corruption, which continues to form a barrier to trade.
The Commonwealth Business Forum in April 2018 will involve events and schemes to support businesses and provide senior business people with the opportunity to network, including the Women in Business convention and a scheme currently running in the UK called Commonwealth First.
Burge hopes to similarly introduce the Commonwealth First Nigeria at the Business Forum, in order to garner support for Nigerian business and find up to 100 small and medium enterprises (SMEs), that are export ready, to take part in the scheme over the next three to four years.
This will help new Nigerian enterprises to get access to their relevant markets, as well encourage investors to provide financial support.
Burge insists that this funding must come from the private sector, as investment from government disappears when there is political change.
Read More: The Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) appointed Obinna Anyanwu as its first Country Head for Nigeria, in order to begin increasing the Council’s engagement with Nigeria’s business community