Port Harcourt — The Canadian High Commission has expressed interest in opening new relationships and business opportunities in Rivers State for Canadian companies and investors.
Canadian Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. James Christoff, stated this in Port Harcourt when he paid a visit to the corporate headquarters of indigenous oil company, BelemaOil Producing Limited.
Christoff, who said his visit was one of his first assignments in Nigeria, stated that Rivers State was strategic to the economy of Nigeria as the hub of the oil and gas industry in the country.
He said some Canadian companies might not know the opportunities for investment in the state, adding that his visit would provide them with requisite information to exploit the opportunities.
His words: "Of course there are potential strategic alliances to be formed with Canadian companies and I know that and part of our job is to come here and make sure we meet people like yourself and understand companies like this one and all the others you mentioned who provide services to that industry to see where the strategic alliances rest and that is part of the reason why we are here.
"But probably more important as first visit to start building those relationships we talked about earlier, that really are the basis, need to be the basis of partnerships, especially as we speak with Canadian companies who, may be, don't know the market that well. And this is how we are able to speak with more confidence. We've come, we've seen, we've met, we've talked, we know more about what's happening with your company but also what is more importantly happening in the area."
He commended BelemaOil for its achievements in less than two years of operation, especially in the area of community development.
"I just want to congratulate you on two things. One, progress to date as your company moves forward and also the strong emphasis on community engagements that quite clearly is at the heart of much of what you are doing. So I want to commend you on that. It is great to see."
He also expressed satisfaction with the peaceful ambience of the state and promised a mutually beneficial relationship.
"And I must say we have been warmly welcomed. We haven't been here long on the ground but it's been a tremendous opportunity for me and on behalf of our high commission in Abuja, I just say thank you again and I look forward to coming back and certainly have further discussions with yourself and others in Port Harcourt about those mutually beneficial opportunities and then we can all take advantage of," he said.
Earlier in his presentation, the Founder/President of BelemaOil Producing Limited, Mr. Jack-Rich Tein, said the vision behind the company is not just to maximise wealth for shareholders, the business managers but to ensure that there are strategic visible footprints in the communities where it operates, "where we consider the communities as strategic partners in creating wealth for all stakeholders".
He said the success of the company has been because it understands the needs of the local communities and addresses them, especially in the areas of potable water, roads and electricity, and employment and training of youth of the area.
"Right now today we have over 1,500 locals that are working in our operations. We are also training more. We have given scholarships to the local communities. This year alone, our scholarship, 2017/2018, is over 400. And we also found out that it is important to broaden our corporate social responsibility exploit to the state," he said.
He also said the company opted to send of the youth to Canada on scholarship for training to ensure that they also add value o the society on completion of their training.
Tein dismissed reports of insecurity in the state, insisting that the state is safe and conducive for business operations.
He said: "In Rivers State, you see how calm the whole state is, the whole neighbourhood looks pretty good. There are all manner of news about this great State not really true. Everywhere in the world we have challenges, we have issues. But I will tell you, this is a great state and our vision is not just to build what I call capital investment in the youths, but also to demonstrate where you have also come to see, that the state is safe to come and do business. And the state is friendly, the youths are friendly. I'll tell you what, the Niger Delta youths are exceptionally so brilliant and friendly."