24 January 2014

Nigeria: Cole - Global Perception About Nigeria Changing

The Managing Director and Co-founder of the Sahara Group, Mr. Tonye Cole, has stated that the previous perception about Nigeria by the global business community, which was not helpful to Nigerian businessmen, is gradually changing.

Speaking in an interview with ARISE Television at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Cole also said it would take about five years for the current massive inflow of investments into Nigeria's power, agriculture and oil and gas sectors to trickle down to the people. He charged the federal government to formulate the right policies that would tell the people that things were actually changing in the country.

"It is taking us to confront those perceptions head-on by travelling internationally and speaking to world leaders one-on-one about the harm that the perception has done to Nigeria. I am glad that slowly but surely, it has begun to sink in," he said. Cole said the good thing about the forum in Davos was that everyone was looking towards Africa, adding that companies like the Sahara Group, which has invested heavily in the continent, would benefit in the long run.

"Now, if everyone is going to come, those who will benefit from it are those who have looked into the future - companies like ours that decided to invest in Africa - going out into the world but bringing everything back into Africa," he added. According to him, efforts had been made to attract investment to Nigeria's power, oil and gas, as well as agricultural sectors. Cole, however, said these were long-term investments that would require major companies coming into Nigeria to make the investments, adding that it would take five years for these investments to trickle down to the people. "We have seen a Dangote in cement and all of that. So that is happening. But all these things are long-term. What you would find is that after about five years of investment at this level, it begins to trickle down. It is not an immediate thing; it does take time but we will get there," he added.

On the crisis in South Sudan, Cole said any country that fights over natural resources would have a difficult time moving forward in the future. "What they ought to do is to realise that they are one country and a lot of work has to be done in integrating its people, language and culture. They should leave money and resources out of it for now. There is so much infrastructure work that needs to be put in place - so much education that needs to be put in place and once they can begin to do that, a new country will emerge," he said.

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