Theodore Bala Maiyaki is the Director of Government Relations of Nigerian –Arabian Gulf Chamber of Commerce (NAGCC). In this interview with Sunday Oyinloye, Publisher Green Savannah Diplomatic Cable, Maiyaki speaks about the ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai, why Nigeria is attending, and why the Chamber is collaborating with the Federal Government to make Nigeria’s participation a success
What is your Chamber’s involvement in the Expo 2020 Dubai?
Nigerian –Arabian Gulf Chamber of Commerce (NAGCC) was principally incorporated to serve as a veritable vehicle for the promotion, projection preservation and the protection of the investment interests of Nigeria in relations to Arab-Gulf countries under the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and to continue to explore the very huge investment potentials of Nigeria in attracting investments from Arab-Gulf countries into our country and of course to give them the opportunity to also explore and exploit the very untapped endowments of this nation in respect of what we can offer the world. This Chamber is supposed to serve as a vehicle and platform for Nigerian investors in response to the call by the Federal Government to continue to promote our own opportunities abroad because there is so much that we have here that is not being seen out there. This Chamber of Commerce serves as this very important window of investment and this coming at a time when nations have chosen the path of trade as the instruments of war as against the old fashion of using military energy and strength as instrument of engagement. Nigeria cannot be left behind. NAGCC has identified this very huge opportunity and is therefore serving as important vehicle between Nigeria and the GCC countries. It serves as that handshake where from that side, they will come and from this side we will offer. The Chamber is the link to afford this two important geographic regions the opportunity to handshake across and continue to explore and tap the opportunities that are bound at the two locations. This is the reason for the Chamber coming at a very critical time when Expo is ongoing, So, I believe that this is an opportunity for us also to showcase Nigeria and to exhibit the strength of our Chamber in relations to the GCC countries and showcasing to the GCC countries where Nigeria stands on investment
What specific roles is the Chamber playing in supporting Nigeria’s participation at the expo?
Nigerian –Arabian Gulf Chamber of Commerce is that critical partner and sponsor of the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment in piloting the participation of Nigeria at the ongoing Expo. We have signed MoU with the Ministry and the MoU is targeted at giving the NAGCC the opportunity to bring to bear the endowment of our location in the GCC area and of course the root that we share from Nigeria. Now this opportunity is being tapped in the MoU to afford the Ministry the opportunity to meet with investors that we have engaged with before now. The essence of the Expo in itself is an opportunity to showcase Nigeria; showcase its endowment, and to project the reality of who we are as against the story of what they have said we are in some foreign media. The NAGCC therefore comes at this very critical moment as an enabler of the Ministry and we are also the partners that will support in terms of deployment of resources, not only monetary but also logistics and in terms of technical support, in terms of manpower on ground and in terms of movement. We have provided a lot of that as contained in the MoU. But more importantly, we are working with NIPC which is responsible for the organization of the trade and investment forum. This is the forum that brings together the collaboration that we need between the investors in Nigeria and investors in the Gulf Region. This trade and investment forum is basically being organised by the NIPC on behalf of the Ministry which is also representing the Federal Government of Nigeria. We are working very closely with them to ensure hitch free organization; world standard cutting edge of that trade and investment forum. We are sponsoring it; we are funding the entire infrastructure they need on ground in Dubai and we are also responsible for bringing together all the investors not just around the Gulf Region but even around the world that we have access to. These investors, it is hope would now have a face to face with our Nigerian investors that we are already mobilizing to attend the forum with a view to ensuring that this critical handshake takes place. This trade and investment forum is proposed to hold on the 4-6 of December in Dubai and it is at that point we expect the crystallization of our participation at the Expo will take place because this is the point where investors from both ends are expected to meet.
Give me a sense of the architecture of the investment forum?
The architecture of the investment forum is such that on the first day, it would be all encompassing, we will have our key leaders in the country (government) and key leaders in the investment sector. They will come together and give a general overview of where we arewith the investment opportunities available here and then, after that, we will disaggregate it by taking them sartorially to ensure that the investors have an opportunity to come and engage with our sectorial experts and also give listening ear to what we have and what they will offer. So, this is why we are interfacing with the Ministry .But all of this is coming at the back of an MoU that we signed with the Ministry
So far, what is the response of would-be participants?
The Expo is a six months event, everything has to evolve. We have contacted the people in government, we have contacted the respective state governments, we have contacted the critical investors in the country and I can assure you that we have received nod from some of the most important investors in Nigeria, both in the manufacturing sector, telecommunication sector, oil and gas sector, Fintech, in the Agricultural sector, power sector, and solid mineral sector. We have received responses from investors in these areas who are happy to partner with us at the forum where we collaborating with NIPC with a view to having a robust outing. And at the end of the day, the important thing is to project Nigeria as an ideal destination for investment because we can’t be left behind. This is where the energy of all nations in the world is being directed and Nigeria has to be in the forefront of promoting trade and investment, including services, where we must be key player not just in the continent, but globally.
Will the few days be enough to interface with investors from 192 countries?
The Expo calendar is hugely loaded .As a matter of fact, a lot of these sectorial engagements in terms of trade and investment will be holding outside the Expo arena and this is because the Expo arena is already saturated with events that have been booked in advance. What we hope to do is to make it a useful forum. What we have done in building the framework of trade and investment forum is to put in strategy we call the lead generation strategy. It is aimed at tapping the inexhaustible nature of this investment forum. What we want to do is while the trade and investment forum is going on, we are building the contacts, we are building the follow up, we are building the lead, thereafter, the main business will take off. It is not expected that we will exhaust all of these contacts within this period. There is a strategy in place to continue the conversation after these three or four days as the case may be and thereafter we hope that results will continue to trickle into the country because the investors will have first-hand all the windows of opportunity and incentives available for would be foreign investors in Nigeria. In collaboration with NIPC, we intend to use this forum as one stop shop to tell Nigerian story, and we hope that Nigerian story will be embraced at that forum