I know for sure that business is a weapon and a tool for influence. Create one wisely, and use it strategically. ~ Udo Okonjo
Someone asked me on Twitter recently, “Apart from Lagos and Abuja, where in Nigeria do you recommend for someone to venture in?”
The choice of a business location depends to a large extent on the nature of business the entrepreneur has in mind. It is also important to consider security, infrastructure, an available and financially capable market for products and services, and ease of doing business, amongst other things.
One of the main findings of the Doing Business in Nigeria Report 2010 was that it was easiest to start and operate a business in Jigawa, Borno, and Gombe, while doing business was most difficult in Imo and Ogun. The report also showed rankings for every state, including the FCT, in 4 categories: Starting a Business, Dealing With Construction Permits, Registering Property, and Enforcing Contracts.
Understandably, Nigerians are wary of venturing in the North due to security challenges the country is presently facing there. Let’s look at where they’re choosing to go despite the report and why.
1. Rivers State- Port Harcourt
Thanks to the efforts of the government to restore relative calm to the city, Port Harcourt is gradually regaining its appeal as one of the best places to do business in Nigeria. Incidentally, my firm Fine and Country is currently bidding for a major project in Port Harcourt, with great potential for success.
Besides being the centre of Nigeria’s oil industry, Port Harcourt has the market for technology products and services and continues to see more consumers migrate into the city. The road networks are being improved, and an independent power project to supply steady power to the whole of Rivers State is currently in the works. PH has always had the appeal of being home to a great number of multinational and local oil firms, and entrepreneurs with innovative ideas are likely to find a financially capable market here.
2. Ogun State- Ota
Abeokuta is Ogun State’s capital and the largest city in the state, but it is Ota town that positions Ogun State as an emerging investment destination. Perhaps its greatest appeal lies in its proximity to Lagos. For those who cannot or do not want to deal with the overcrowded and rowdy Lagos, the Ota industrial town is an attractive alternative that still gives the benefit of being close to Nigeria’s economic nerve centre. Several multinationals and corporations, including manufacturing and business conglomerates, have set up their bases here, most notably Nestle Nigeria Plc. The government in turn has responded by making efforts to improve infrastructure in the State.
3. Enugu State- Enugu
Enugu is one city which is clearly being positioned for growth in business investments. The impressive road network within and around the city means less logistic worries for intending business operators, and the Akanu Ibiam Airport which is currently being upgraded to an International Airport- the first in the Southeast region the city- heightens its appeal.
The Ama Brewery established by the Nigerian Breweries Plc which now serves a greater portion of the South-East and South-South Nigeria is a testament to Enugu’s attractiveness to investors. Furthermore, in recent times Enugu has become a filming location of choice for Nollywood, and entrepreneurs with creative ideas may tap into this.
Calabar and Akwa Ibom are also favourable locations for the adventurous entrepreneur. Calabar boasts the Tinapa Resort and the Calabar Free Trade Zone, while Akwa-Ibom houses the South-South’s only International Airport which has opened up more avenues for business and investment growth, in addition to a major seaport. The construction of another world class port, Ibaka Seaport at Oron, has been proposed.
Calabar pulls tourists like a magnet, and the annual Calabar Festival which holds in December, is becoming increasingly popular. The peace and cleanliness for which the city is known also attracts investors looking for an environment conducive to business. Africa’s first Global Black Multi-Broadcast Entertainment Network, Ebony Life TV, launched last year with its studios in Tinapa, Calabar- a move which has seen such a major personality as its CEO Mo Abudu essentially relocate from Lagos to Calabar.
Being in the big city is not necessarily the key for everyone. Be open to opportunities which come disguised as “small town living.” Sometimes, that’s what opens you up to shine.
I advise you carefully study the Doing Business in Nigeria Report 2010 and also thoroughly research your location of choice in relation to the nature of your business. Make profitable music in 2014. That’s what Ignited Tycoons do.
Yours in Success,