Monday, August 31, 2009

Change of Baton at the Austrian Commercial Office, Lagos, Nigeria

It was five years ago that Dr Albrecht Zimburg arrived Lagos, Nigeria as the Commercial Counsellor of the Austrian Embassy and charged with the Herculean responsibility of overseeing the commercial concerns of Austria in several parts of Africa, with Lagos, Nigeria as the outpost.

If we go by the number of persons that turned up at the send forth party and the reactions received from the invitees, it would be safe to conclude that Dr Zimburg came, saw and conquered.It is incumbent to note that during his tenure in office as the Commercial Counsellor, Austria-Nigeria trade volume rose astronomically.

He would be missed by many Nigerian business people such as Dr Olu Adeleye of Daid Group of Companies, Engineer Olu Okunriboyo and Najim Atallah of Arbitech Nigeria Limited amongst others that saw him as their mouthpiece to reach their prospective business partners in Austria.

The business community present at the reception/send forth party was taken by the enthusiasm of the new Commercial Counsellor, Mr. Sigmund Nemeti. He has come to Nigeria with lots of experience having served in other countries including South Africa. He assured guests present that he would continue from where his predecessor stopped and would take Austria-Nigerian trade relationship to even greater heights.

Austrian companies are expected to play significant roles in the Nigerian economy particularly in the areas of renewable energy, construction of quick fix bridges, airport towers, medical technology and engagement in financial services as foreign direct investors. Further, as the tourism sector develops, stakeholders would benefit immensely from Vienna experience as Austria’s cultural and convention city.

Some of the ways Nigeria-Austria tie can be further strengthened include:

a. Set up of a bilateral chamber of commerce or trade association a. Encouragement of trade visits, fairs and exhibitions

b. Establishment of twin cities to facilitate cultural exchange

c. Further encouragement of the learning of German language in Nigeria

d. Identification of areas of comparative advantage and the support of its development.

e. Encouragement of more Austrians to visit Oshogbo Shrine in Osun State (and other parts of Nigeria) as a means to opening the tourism gateway to Nigeria, which would eventually translate to more business as cultural barriers collapse.

We wish Mr Sigmund Nemeti a happy stay in Nigeria, the land with limitless opportunities!

Ndudi Osakwe
Infoplus/IBG Nigeria

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Palms Shopping Mall...Nigeria's business success story.

By the time you finished reading this piece, your attitude to doing business in Nigeria would have changed except if you have the mindset of the Egyptian Pharaoh.

We have culled this interview by Trade Invest with Prakash Pantham, a director in Persianas, owners of the Palms Mall to buttress our point that Nigeria remains an investment destination for investors with 'balls'. Are you? Then look no further!

Read the excerpts below. For the detailed interview, visit

Why do you think has The Palms shopping mall been so successful?

First of all, the absence of any modern shopping malls in Nigeria has led to a great demand for such a development. Secondly, and most importantly, we have managed to maintain the international standards of operations and maintenance at The Palms consistently through the years, providing the retailers an opportunity to invest and grow their businesses over a longer period of time. We have been very particular about the product/category mix at The Palms, ensuring that all categories are well represented. This was achieved by a smart mix of positioning and tariff for the various segments. For instance, the lease rentals would vary across segments and would also be determined by the profitability of each business. For us at The Palms, our success is determined by the success of our tenants.

Tell us more about Persianas’ planned expansion of The Palms.

Persianas has embarked on the expansion of The Palms largely because of the great demand for retail and office space in Lagos. Land has been acquired adjacent to The Palms and we have put together an international consortium of consultants and engineers to work on this project. The expansion will add approx 40,000 m² to the retail section, and we plan to add two office towers with a total of 30,000 m² and a small hotel with 100 rooms to the project. The necessary parking space will be created by a multi-level car park with space for an additional 2,300 cars. The entire project will be self-reliant in respect of power back-up, water and sewage treatment, security, etc. We expect the construction to start in the 1st quarter of 2010 and to be completed by 2014, though the retail component will be ready by 2012.

What is your message to foreign property developers looking to invest in Nigeria?

With a population of 140 million and growing, Nigeria offers an excellent opportunity for investors to cash in on the growth expected to occur in the next decade or two.
The success of the telecom industry in Nigeria, which today is the largest market in Africa, is testimony to this. Those operators who came in early and took the risk are laughing all the way to the bank. Those who shied away in those days are ready to pay a fortune to enter this market now.

Many state governments have actively started developing their states by creating a friendly environment for investment. The consumers in this country are very sophisticated and are capable of paying for quality products and services. All that it requires is for somebody to offer them the quality consistently.

There are two ways to look at Nigeria’s absence of infrastructure – either viewing it as an opportunity to develop it, or waiting till somebody does it.
The Nigerian economy is growing, and this is leading to a demand for quality housing, office space and other related real estate infrastructure. Currently the rentals in certain areas of Lagos are probably the highest in the world, mainly because of the shortage of quality property. There is a huge gap in demand and supply, and the market is open to developers to fill the gap.

You may visit Palms Shopping Mall website on

Frank Advice:
With the acute shortage in office spaces and shopping malls in Nigerian cities, why tie down your money in real estate development elsewhere? The return on investment is amazing. Be wise! Ndudi Osakwe, IBG Nigeria.