Business District in Lagos, Nigeria. Image Credit: (BuzzNigeria)
Nigerians shouted and the electorate voted with their feet and ushered in a change in government. This change came in the guise of President Muhammadu Buhari, a former Military Head of State of the country. Amongst much fanfare, President Buhari promised change; which will directly alleviate the suffering of the common Nigerian, as well as improve their lives. The wind of change presently sweeping the nation comes with the hope that business opportunities can improve under this new government. While we await the manifestation of President Buhari’s plans for his country, here are 6 business areas that must be explored:
Oil & Gas: Nigeria is the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world and the 8th largest exporter, and has the 10th largest proven reserves. Petroleum plays a large role in the Nigerian economy, accounting for 40% of GDP and 80% of Government earnings. This is the numero uno of investment opportunities, however, investing in this sector is no mean feat. As with economies all over the world, oil and gas is a market dominated by a small number of oligopolists. This means entry into it is minimal to near impossible, but if you have the capital investment to get in, your returns will be astronomical.
Renewable Energy: Even though Nigeria’s economy is now classed as the largest in Africa, unfortunately, electricity supply in the country is at best epileptic. Past governments have tried but failed to solve the problem with power generation fluctuating between 1500mw and 5500mw. If the new dispensation is to be believed, then investors and entrepreneurs must actively look at finding lasting solutions to the power generation problem in the country. Renewable energy is the wisest solution.
Renewable energy is generally known as energy that comes from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. This type of energy replaces conventional fuels in 4 areas and one of which is electricity generation. The abundant supply of sunlight, wind and rain in this west african country, can only mean that with the right innovation and investment, power generation can be very lucrative. Wind turbines and solar panels must surely be considered and business ideas associated with both must not be discounted. This market is open in Nigeria but requires a significant amount of investment to be considered credible.
A few challenges await entrepreneurs or investors looking to go into this kind of business. Obstacles include (1) the cynical nature of Nigerians; this is due to the fact that many Renewable Energy companies have promised but failed to deliver in the past, (2) lack of support by past governments to assist companies who invested in renewable energy. However, there is every reason to be hopeful with the new government. (3) the technology has not been completely tested for the Nigerian environment. If all this is taken into account, there is no reason investors in renewable energy won’t make a killing and smile to their banks.
Security and public safety: This is a major problem in Nigeria. The bane of armed robbery and street violence in the recent past has now been compounded by the emergence of terrorism and kidnapping. Most foreign countries now advise their citizens “against all but essential travel to” more than 10 states in the country. But in the midst of all that chaos is a business opportunity. The current government is aware of the country’s security lapses and as such business ideas that can improve the general safety of Nigerians must be considered. To make a profit, ideas that are simple, straightforward and non complicated should be pushed forward. It is important to understand that entry into the security and safety industry in Nigeria ranges from low to high investment, and as such returns will mirror the level of investment. I believe very strongly that Nigerians can invest in their own safety by coming up with security and safety innovations and make some money out of it.
Anti graft/ Anti corruption: If you want to make some money by doing business in Nigeria, this is it. The major campaign slogan for President Buhari was “Change” and the promise to significantly reduce corruption in his country by tackling it head on. Some countries have termed Nigeria as ‘the most corrupt nation in the world’ Rightly or wrongly, things need to be done to promote transparency in the country. President Buhari promised a reduction in corruption and was overwhelmingly voted into power based on this promise. With that in mind, there is an astronomical level of expectation placed directly on him (and rightly so). Any entrepreneur or investor worth his salt should seriously consider anti corruption ideas and innovations. With the present level of expectation, this is a ball Mr President cannot afford to drop. Entrepreneurs working in partnership with the government (Federal or State) will no doubt be successful in any business venture related to anti corruption.
Training: From banking to agriculture; from customer service to road safety, training (at all levels) is beneficial to any growing society. Nigeria should not be different. Short, sharp bespoke training combined with appropriate training facilities are lacking in the country. Nigerian entrepreneurs together with foreign investors can look at this area and devise solutions that are profitable but at the same time helpful to Nigerians. Captains of industry, Heads of Departments and even Chief Executives can benefit directly from training packages bespoke to their industries to align with the ever changing face of global business. Training providers can make a significant impact in Nigeria thus making training a major investment opportunity.
Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship is ESSENTIAL for the sound and sustained economic development of a country therefore entrepreneurship development is essential too since entrepreneurs contribute to the national income. Entrepreneurs create upward social mobility, change, development and NEW BUSINESSES. It is my opinion (and many others) therefore that these ‘national treasures’ must be protected, promoted, supported and encouraged. As stated earlier, Nigeria is considered the largest economy in Africa, until recently, this was not the case, but the Nigerian GDP now includes previously uncounted industries like telecoms, information technology, music, online sales, airlines and film production. Industries that were single handedly created, nurtured and sustained by entrepreneurs without government support.
Entrepreneurship must be encouraged in Nigeria and in return entrepreneurs must develop themselves. It in encouraging that entrepreneurship come naturally to the common Nigerian who need little or no motivation to start a business. But these guys (and girls) need honest but hefty financial backing in order to sustain and grow their entrepreneurial flair. I have come across business ideas that could quite simply change the way Nigerians live, but the lack of support and finances have stymied the realisation of these ideas. Quite unfortunate really.
If President Buhari keeps his promises to the Nigerian people, this can only mean business opportunities will abound and lead to an improvement in business and investment during his tenure. We are praying and hoping.