Unilever Africa at the weekend held its ‘Partner to Win Investment Conference’ in Lagos. The conference which is an on-going tour on the African continent focuses on sensitising suppliers and business leaders on investment opportunities available in Nigeria.
The conference hosted state governors from Lagos, Ogun and Kogi who are renowned for stable agricultural produce and commercial activities.
The purpose of the conference is to share Unilever’s growth plans for Africa and explore mutually beneficial business opportunities in capacity creation, capability enhancement, sustainability practices and better innovations.
Unilever Africa has ambitious growth plans of more than doubling the size of its business, whilst halving the environmental impact of its products and improving our positive social impact by 2020.
This audacious goal is based on the changing demographic profile and the rising middle class in Africa, and Unilever is backing this ambition with significant investments in capex and people in Africa.
However for Unilever to achieve success these investments are to be matched by strategic capacity and capability investments by our supply partners, as it scouts for capacity to fuel growth.
Our ‘Partner to Win’ program has enabled the company to create more long-term partnerships in co-creating new capabilities in order to achieve mutual growth for both partners.
The conference features elaborate speeches by state governors highlighting the various marketable opportunities available in their states, plenary discussions where opportunities in and around Africa are discussed, break-away sessions discussing the East-, West-, and Southern Africa regions with a specific focus on Nigeria and a promise to continue the message in south Africa.
According to the organisers of the conference Unilever over the last two years has invested $200 million dollars in capital expenditure in advertising, brand promotion and digital marketing, with 80 per cent of the company’s turnover coming from Nigeria.
Chief Procurement Officer of Unilever, Dhaval Buch, said: “When we bring our partners say 60 or 70 of them coming together, we believe that as we grow they will need to invest and grow with us”
The managing Director, Mr. Yaw Nsarkoh, also affirming the vision of the summit said: “Part of why we are doing this is in trying to bring people into Nigeria so that after 91 years in Nigeria we consider ourselves part of the community. As a lead manufacturer in this country it is our responsibility to help the government in the agenda of inclusive growth which is spoken about everywhere in Nigeria. So we see it as part of our corporate responsibility to do that.
“What is the biggest issue in Nigeria today that everybody talks about? It is inequality. The representatives and governors all talked about it and one of the ways of addressing this is by creating employment. So we see it as a core part of our responsibility to do that.”
Meanwhile, Governor Ibikunle amosu of Ogun state who also addressed delegates at the conference acknowledged that 80 per cent of Unilever’s activities are cited in Ogun state. With the high level human capital and 17,000 hectares of land available for cultivation, Governor Amosu beckoned on the conglomerate and other investors to tap into the unending resources in the state.
He said: “For us in Ogun State we know that agriculture is the key. To our investors they will look to where the markets are. What are the chances that whatever we do people will be there to take it from us? Because of the availability of the markets the human capital are available too.
“It is not by fluke that today we have the largest concentration of industries in Ogun state. Investors will not just come and throw their money away they must be where they know that their investments are safe; they must be where they are convinced that the returns on their investments will not only be guaranteed but it would be real and probably better than so many other places.
“In Ogun state we have about 7 million people, our GDP is about 70 million dollars, we must continue with people like you who have private sector initiative.
( Courtesy This Day & AGENCIES …….. Source ………. NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS)