•Firm concludes discussions with South Africa, Tanzania, others for possible mega deals
A Nigerian firm, Baywood Continental Limited is on the verge of extending its thriving business into five countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa sub region.
The company says it is committed to doing this following recent discovery that a lot more business opportunities abound in most African countries.
The company’s President/Chief Executive Officer, Emperor Chris Baywood Ibe said this after his arrival from a recent four-week tour of South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Kenya where he went to looking for business opportunities. He noted that he was in those countries with team which he named Afriven Baywood Team, a, venture that was made possible by some of the company’s local partners. He said he was prepared to invest in those countries for profit. According to him, much business opportunities abound overseas and Nigerian firms could utilise them by exporting their expertise and capabilities with the kind support of the Federal Government.
It was an insightful and revealing, experience,” Emperor Baywood, said. “The trip took my team and me to five countries in Southern and Eastern parts of Africa: South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania. We had fruitful discussions with Presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Joyce Mujuru, Vice President, Republic of Zimbabwe and other high ranking government officials in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
“First, we went to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania and then South Africa. Everything about the trip was a resounding success. Our discussion with Presidents Jacob Zuma and Jakaya Kikwete were particularly rewarding. Our meeting with Joyce Mujuru too was encouraging, same for top government officials in other countries.
“Having grown as a frontline company of choice in our core areas, we decided to trade in Africa. This is because we see tremendous opportunities in those countries and we know that the best way to be there is to identify opportunities through the establishment of the right contact within the upper echelon of government and to create a synergy with reputable local partners. In all the countries we visited, they were convinced about our expertise. We let them know what we had done, what we can do, what we are doing and what we want to do. So far, we have made inroads into those areas. Our hosts are very happy with what we can do. To that extent, I’ feel encouraged and we are following up with discussions with our local partners.”
Emperor Baywood Ibe was optimistic that his organisation would delight in utilising identifies opportunities which in line with its vision. It said the best way to accomplish that was to tie up relationships with respective governments of those countries and some local partners. “It became evident everywhere we visited that there are immense opportunities. We intend to harness those opportunities through purposefulness and clear entry strategies available to us. Having discussed a lot of business opportunities after the first contacts, focussed follow ups are being made to crystalise promising ideas and to harvest the low hanging fruits.”
He said other Nigerian firms could work out the right synergy with other African countries to work for the good of Africa, disclosing that, that was his message to the presidents he met. “I told the same thing to Presidents Zuma and Kikwete. I reiterated that African remains our only continent – that we Africans have our destiny in our hands. Therefore, we have to develop ourselves. We have the capacity to do that; Africa will remain neo-colonised economically by the so-called superpowers and very soon it might be an extinguished continent. Therefore, the only way to prevent that from happening is to use what we have now to get what we want; meaning that we have to play by the rule of the game. My message to Africans is that Africans must develop Africa. If we do that, we are going to eliminate poverty and impoverishment among our people. We are going to create a lot of awareness and empower our people politically, economically and educationally and will be competing better among the comity of nations.”
Baywood Ibe who is also the owner of Tropical Arctic Logistics Ltd (TAL), a helicopter hiring firm, called for Federal Government support to Nigerian companies to rule the African. “During our visit I saw huge and immense potentials. What we required here is Federal Government support. For instance, South Korea supports her own companies – Hyundai, Dawoo and Samsung. These companies were chosen by the government of South Korea to trade abroad and export their capacities and expertise which hitherto were not strong enough. With the support of their government, those companies have become strong economic powers around the world. The profit they take to their home countries has a lot of impact on their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Nigerian can offer us similar support to export our capacities to other African countries and beyond. In doing so, we will be developing those countries through capacity building and human capital development. We will take our people along, train and employ people in those countries too. We will generate revenue and bring it back and also make a lot of impact on the country’s GDP.”
Nigerian companies he notes go abroad and do well, “if they are at the right place at the right time and have the support of the Federal Government. We at Baywood Continental Limited want to be involved in the affairs of Africa because we desire Africa that is devoid of conflict; we desire Africa that is devoid of crisis and turmoil. When I met the vice president of Zimbabwe, I told her that people like us are passionate about Africa and should be given the opportunity to speak at African heads of states forum. We will tell them the opportunities and obstacles we see as business men; we will show them what we are seeing which they are not seeing.”
In his opinion, Nigeria has so much to gain if local companies export their expertise abroad, noting that his company’s overseas adventure has immense political and image gains for the country. “When I got to Kenya, I was glad to hear that two Nigerian companies are there. They alluded to the fact that this was because of the existing cordial relationship between Nigeria and Kenya. When we join the duo, definitely, the perception of Nigeria by Kenyans will change. It is also going to be the same thing in all other countries we are going into. What that means is that we have to be Nigeria’s good ambassadors; we are going to launder the country’s image in many ways.
“However, this will come with its own challenges. For instance, to trade abroad, one needs to develop their business at home because going abroad requires a lot of money, effort and manoeuvring. It won’t be easy if the company is not home grown; additionally, one has to know their onions – that is exactly what we have done because here in Nigeria, we are known, seen and heard. We cannot be wished away in the Nigerian oil and gas sphere.
“Over the years, we have done projects and have been involved in projects that took a lot of initiative. Today, for instance, we are building the largest gas pipeline in the country which is 42 inches x 45km. This has never been done before in the oil and gas industry sector in Nigeria. The largest before now was the 40 inches facility done by Wilbros some 20 years ago. Given our capacity, we have been able to accomplish that and our clients are happy with us. We have proved beyond reasonable doubt that we have the capacity and we have the muscle to deliver. This is the assurance I gave everywhere I visited.”
The BCL boss then called on more Nigerian firms take a step of faith, but warned that “there is high tendency for them to loose money if they fail to do plan well. Therefore, they have to ensure that they are well established and convinced that they have the muscle to trade abroad. They have to think through the idea and be convinced that they can do that. In addition, they must have the right people and understand the environment.”
His company, BCL, began operation 25 years ago but now has offices in Ghana and Canada. Its core area is construction in the oil and gas industry. But over the years, it has extended its operations into other forms of engineering works, procurement, installation, commissioning, operations and maintenance of major oil and gas facilities. It is involved in building flow stations, gas stations, gas plants, major pipelines and onshore and offshore terminals. It is equally has hands in helicopter chartering/acquisition for offshore support services for corporate bodies, using it Tropical Arctic Logistics Ltd.