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Okonjo-Iweala Cautions Nigeria and Other African Countries Against Unfavourable Bilateral Trade Agreements

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Financial Inclusion

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has urged Nigeria to guard against entering into unfavourable bilateral trade agreements with rich countries.

She advised Nigeria and other African countries to embrace multilateral trade agreements through the WTO instead of entering into agreements that might put them in a disadvantaged position in global trade.

Okonjo-Iweala, during the Forbes Leading Women Summit 2021 edition tagged “One-on-One with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,” held virtually on Tuesday as part of activities to mark the 2021 International Women’s Day, said: “The WTO is important because it provides a forum for multilateral trade. So, what else has Nigeria got to do, and African countries have to do so that we do not enter into a lot of bilateral trade relationships with rich countries where we will be at a disadvantage? We must bring them to the multilateral negotiation table at the WTO, Nigeria included.”

Besides, she called on Nigeria, and Africa in general, to look inward and be keen to use all available tools to increase their productions and sell in order to attain sustainable development and improve Africa’s share of global trade that is currently hovering between two and three percent.

She added: “If you want to trade more and be part of the global system, you need to step back and look internally at what you can produce. To trade more, you have to produce more. For Nigeria, I think we need to look at the diversification of our products. As you can see, many countries are moving away from fossil fuels because they have high carbon emissions and turning to renewable. So, we have to think ahead in Nigeria about what does this means?”

She stated that the WTO would develop rules to strengthen the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and integrate them into regional and global value chains as a way of bringing in marginalised population.

“First, let me look at it from the perspective of trying to bring in marginalised population. There is a lot we are doing to look at the MSMEs and the rules of the trade that could help bring those enterprises into regional and global value chains where they can participate in global trade. So, we are looking at how we can make rules that are supportive of MSMEs for trade. And how we can also work with governments and other organisations to get investments into the MSMEs companies because most of them felt the liquidity crunch that is always a problem to women in trade,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

She, however, urged governments to empower women with educational, financial and legal supports and develop policies that could identify and fill the gaps in supporting women empowerment.

“But above all, we have to make sure that women are given a chance in the cabinets and in the private sector as CEOs,” she said, adding that women must be prepared to deal with gender stereotypes without being distracted.

She explained that she suffered gender stereotype recently when a Swedish newspaper greeted her appointment at the WTO with a headline that screamed: “66-year-old Grandma Takes over the Leadership of the WTO.”

Brands

Eat’N’Go Expands To East Africa, Projects 180 Stores By Year End

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In a bid to further extend its tentacles beyond the West African market, Eat’N’Go limited, one of the leading Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) operators in Nigeria and master franchisee for world-class food brands – Domino’s Pizza, Cold Stone Creamery, and Pinkberry Gourmet Frozen Yoghurt, announced its expansion into the East African market.

This development comes after the successful acquisition of the franchisee which operated Cold Stone Creamery and Domino’s Pizza in Kenya. This acquisition will see Eat’N’Go limited become the largest Domino’s pizza and Cold Stone Creamery Master Franchisee in Africa with operations in Nigeria and Kenya.

Since its entrance to Nigeria in 2012, the QSR company has grown exponentially and has continuously nurtured the drive to extend its footprint across the African market. This acquisition provides them their first foreign market expansion, making them a Pan African company with a total number of 147 outlets across Africa and a projection to reach 180 stores by end of 2021.

Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Eat’N’Go Limited, Patrick McMichael said that expanding into East Africa represents a very exciting time in the growth of the organization and also a strategic investment for the firm and its stakeholders. “Over the years, we have fostered the mission to not just bring the best QSR brands to Africa, but to directly impact on Africa’s economy and we are glad we are finally on the way to making this happen. Studying the growth of the Kenyan market in the last couple of years, we are convinced that now is the time to extend our footprint into the country.”

“We are very thrilled about this expansion as this move avails us more opportunity to provide Jobs to more Africans, especially in times like this. We remain thankful to all our customers, partners, and stakeholders who have supported us this far and we are more than ready to strengthen our dedication in satisfying the needs of our customers” Patrick added.

Eat’N’Go has over the years maintained its position as the leading food franchisee in Nigeria. As it expands its presence to other parts of Africa, the organization also places a strong focus on the quality of its products and services of all its three brands. The expansion to this new region is in line with the company’s plan to reach 180 stores across Africa by the end of 2021.

The milestone achievement and development will better position the company in its contribution to Nigeria and Africa’s economy. Currently home to over 3000 staff members across Africa, the company is committed to continuously provide job and business opportunities across the continent.

Eat’N’Go launched in 2012 in Nigeria with the vision to become the premier food operator in Africa. Today, the company has over 147 stores in Nigeria and Kenya and it continues to deliver on this promise by successfully rolling out the globally recognised brands Cold Stone Creamery and Domino’s Pizza across Africa. The company continues to expand its presence in key markets by fusing company goals with new strategic development goals and is projected to reach 180 stores across Africa by end of 2021.

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Brands

Shoprite Exit: LCCI Explains Challenges Hurting Business Operations in Nigeria

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shoprite

Following the recent announcement of Shoprite, a leading South Africa retail giant, that it is leaving the Nigerian market due to harsh business environment and tough business policies, Dr Muda Yusuf, the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has explained some of the challenges responsible for such decision despite Nigeria’s huge population size.

Yusuf said while such decision is negative for the Nigerian economy, several factors like harsh business environment could have forced the company to make such decision. He said it also could be due to intense competitive pressure.

He said, “Shoprite is an international brand with presence in 14 African countries and about 3,000 stores. The comparative analysis of returns on investment in these countries may have informed the decision to exit the Nigeria market.

“The opportunities for retail business in Nigeria is immense. But the competition in the sector is also very intense.

“There are departmental stores in practically every neighbourhood in our urban centres around the country. There is also a strong informal sector presence in the retail sector. It is a very competitive space.”

According to the Director-General, there are also important investment climate issues that constitute downside risks to big stores like Shoprite.

He said, “These include the trade policy environment, which imposes strict restrictions on imports; the regulatory environment, which is characterised by a multitude of regulators making endless demands.

“There is also the foreign exchange policy, which has made imports and remittances difficult for foreign investors. There are challenges of infrastructure which put pressures on costs and erodes profit margins.”

The LCCI boss added, “But we need to stress that Shoprite is only divesting and selling its shares; Shoprite as a brand will remain. I am sure there are many investors who will be quite delighted to take over the shares.

“It should be noted that there are other South African firms in Nigeria doing good business. We have MTN, Multichoice, Stanbic IBTC, and Standard Chartered Bank, among others. Some of them are making more money in Nigeria than in South Africa.”

He added that some sectors are more vulnerable to the challenges of the business environment than others.

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Appointments

Afrinvest Appoints Mrs. Onaghinon As COO

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Afrinvest West Africa Limited, has appointed the former head of public private partnership agency of the Edo State, Mrs Onoise Onaghinon as its chief operating officer.

Onaghinon joined Afrinvest in 2003 as an analyst in the firm’s investment banking division, rising through the ranks to become an associate, then vice president and eventually executive director & head of investment banking.

She is a seasoned veteran in the Nigerian capital markets and investment landscape with over 18 years of experience in capital raising, mergers and acquisitions, and restructurings across many industries.

In 2017, Onaghinon took a sabbatical from the Firm to head the Public Private Partnership Agency of the Edo State Government. Having acquitted herself creditably in the public sector, she has rejoined the Firm to resume as the new COO.

Speaking on the appointment, group managing director of Afrinvest, Ike Chioke, said: “over the years, Onaghinon has demonstrated great leadership, professional excellence and outstanding client commitment in driving the firm’s business units, particularly our investment banking division. We are delighted to have her back and we look forward to leveraging her cross-disciplinary experience across the Afrinvest group”.

In her new role, Onaghinon will oversee human resources, legal & compliance, internal control and general services while leading the firm’s initiatives to improve efficiency across its subsidiaries.

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