Monday, 13 November 2017

#BusinessandtheStateTuesdays: Is it Easier to do Business in Nigeria? (PEBEC)



I didn't see myself as an analyst, giving you guys figures and all that, but it's important to note a few things before I start.

Ready?

So there are bodies that ensure countries do not just do whatever they see fit. Quite a number of them.
But there is a particular body that is more interested in how the government disperses their funds and borrowed funds and how it affects the general population. In Nigeria, they partner with the government to tackle problem areas across different sectors. You guessed right, that body is The World Bank.


They carry out an assessment every year on countries and how those countries have fared in the ease of doing business. They come up with indexes and rate the different countries based on their performances.

Nigeria reduced 25 points on the index and all our news channels were flooded with talk that it had indeed become easier to do business in Nigeria. Do you feel it, let me give you a bit of understanding how we've been fairing over the years so that you can give a commensurate assessment on our overall performance.

According to this document by the World Bank, since 2008 it had come increasingly difficult to do business in Nigeria, reaching an all time high at the verge of the hand-over of power to the APC Government and throughout the first year of the APC leadership. Different people can come up with different conspiracy theories on what caused what and whose fault it was. But it is evident that things have been getting worse over a 10 year period, through different leaderships.

The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo launched the Presidential Enabling Business Enviroment Council (PEBEC) and set up an Enabling Business Environment Secretariat for the team to work. Amazing young people under the leadership of the Vice President who played an active role as the Chairman of  PEBEC championed this "change" through Dr Jumoke Oduwole, SA to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment as the Vice Chair of PEBEC alongside the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah.

People are working yeah?



So I attended a meeting themed

"ABUJA STAKEHOLDERS EVENT" 

It took place at the Nigerian Export Promotion Council and it was where the PEBEC team galvanised the representatives of the government agencies that they have been working with to effect this "change". The bodies that were represented there where the Nigerian Immigration Service, Customs, NOTAP, SON, CAC, NAFDAC amongst other agencies that deemed it necessary to attend.

They iterated why they started with these few agencies and the successes that they had achieved.

1. It is now possible for investors to enter into Nigeria and get a visa on arrival.
2. It is now evidently easier for goods to be cleared at the ports.
3. To register your business through CAC is not a humongous task anymore.
4. It is possible to now register your trademark and patents in Nigeria without waiting for years.
5. There is now an application where businesses local and international can file complaints of poor practices with any government agency that make it difficult for them to carry out their business easily. Right here www.pebec.report

The highlight of the day was the fire side chat moderated by Tolu Ogunlesi, Head of DigiCommsNG where he spoke to Angel Adelaja, CEO Fresh Direct, Kola Aina, CEO Ventures Platform, Babatunde Ajala, Political and Economic Officer, Embassy of Switzerland in Nigeria, Mayowa Owa, Managing Partner Prigem Concepts Limited and Saadatu Hamu Aliyu, Terra Firma Law Practice.

These are young Nigerians across different sectors from Venture Capitalism, to Renewable Energy to Agriculture to Law and to Public Policy and they discussed what that shift meant for Nigerians and what they expect going forward.


1. Angel noted how difficult it was to get things done when she was starting out but she applauds the changes in CAC to make registrations and processes easier. She noted that there's a lot of room for improvement and she advised that the borders should be more open to people that would consider investing or even visiting Nigeria to get visas on arrival. She also offered advice to a number of governmental. Are they going to take it on? I could see the looks on the governmental official's faces in response to her comments.



2. Kola mentioned how they usually spent more than half of the time that should've been spent accelerating businesses to ensure that they were properly registered in Nigeria. He said that process that usually took up to 16 weeks was now down to a bit over 2 weeks. He also mentioned how he has missed out on investor funding as a result of bureaucracy at governmental institutions where he had to get one approval or the other. He applauded to work of the CAC and noted how the PEBEC team had helped him through challenges sorting out issues with certain governmental agencies. He stated that Nigerians cannot 'entrepreneur' their way out of bad governance`. All the government representatives were wondering how they will also launch their own startups to collect $20,000 investment from Kola. LOL. I could imagine their faces like.


3. Babatunde spoke about how when he learnt about the activities of PEBEC and decided to attract a few Swiss Investors to test the systems they had put in place. He was able to reach out to the various agencies and carry out the meetings with the agencies and investors all at once at NIPC (Nigerian Investment Promotion Council). This was not possible before as all the meetings would have had to be carried at the individual agencies separately. Who knows how long a time that would have taken a couple months ago, where helplines and websites were just for fancy?

I can literally imagine the people at the help desk of those agencies doing this.


4. Saadatu made some very fine comments. She mentioned that lawyers were more in need now despite the perceived reduction in need for them to register companies. She was able to identify a niche where the startups would always need advice with specific things and it creates the perfect opportunity to build relationships with startups to offer them legal advice and other services on retainer fees. As a lawyer she applauded the way the CAC had worked hard to reform their system and urged them to do more. She spoke on two bills that would help small and medium sized enterprises access credit like the movable assets bill where a business person can get loans with collateral on their phones, cars etc. unlike earlier where you would need a landed asset (house or land etc) and the credit risk bill that enables businesses to grow their credit base when they build up a reputation of taking loans and paying back with the stipulated time period. She called on the private sector to not fold their arms and work together with public institutions to build the Nigeria that we want. No one is going to do it for us. This is what the public officers like to hear. They were all there like...


They were happy to hear that she didn't blame them like the others.


5. Mayowa was definitely overwhelmed by the crowd. LOL. Tolu asked him to explain what renewable energy had to do in the scheme of things to add to the Nigerian space to make businesses work better and save us from high costs of energy generation and distribution that has a direct effect on our ease of doing business in Africa. Man started to say what I can't even begin to explain. Not to castigate the young man, he is definitely very sound to be invited to that panel, I mean I want to be like him when I grow up, but he should join Aso Rock Stars Toastmasters. He made some fairly good points. But I am sure the crowd were just like ....


Q & A session

The fireside chat was over and the audience were allowed to ask a few questions to the representatives of the PEBEC Team and the agencies present on certain challenges.

1. A lady came up to complain about the bureaucracy in NAFDAC stating their opening times to be 10am as against the 8.00am opening times stated in the Civil Service Code of Conduct  how there is no timeline to when her site would be inspected before she begins operations. The response by the NAFDAC representatives made everyone feel like....


 This people will not kill us in Jesus Name.

2. You know I had to make my own point, I cannot come there and not collect attention for HubbonNG. Lol. If you see how high I raised my hands to be noticed ehnn. Lol I was like Pick me pick me.


I refused to be ignored.

I first stated that apparently that NIPOST asks for a license fee of N1.5million if any company chooses to go into the courier industry. Ridiculous right ?. 
I then complained about Triple/Quadriple taxation or levies from Federal,State and Local Government agencies and the need to streamline that process to make them transparent. I also stated that different sectors should have the stipulated costs attached clearly stated so that startups know the costs that they would incur before they launch their business and have government agencies shove them around until they decide to close shop and move to take a job in the government. LOL. My issue was taken down by a representative of PEBEC, David Uzosike. but I am a Nigerian I can never be calm, I went to present my challenges to Dr Jumoke, Secretary of PEBEC to ensure that she remembered my challenges and attention was paid in that regard. LOL. I must've been a bother.



They were other questions and comments that came up, but my fingers are tired and I do not remember them all.

PERSONAL ASSESSMENT

I remember having a discussion with my co-founder yesterday where I stated the fact that Nigerians do not require a lot from their leaders and people in government. They just need to create the necessary environment for people to build businesses that thrive and we will be the best country in the world. Real Talk. Other countries in the world are great, because Nigerians are making things happen there. Our country has this way of making us tired.


Most people just pack their load and leave the country. Some others would rather prefer to die in the Mediterrenean and the Sahara Desert, to them it's a better risk than being in Nigeria. LOL.

It's people like me that see that glimmer of hope that Nigeria would turn around and we are working endlessly to make that happen.

Are you with me on this?

This could be my best post yet. I enjoyed writing this, I was laughing endlessly.

Best regards,

Ejieji Muna
(HubbonNG)

2 comments:

  1. This is a nice post that relates to the Nigerian situation especially the part about Nigerian deciding to just pack and leave thee country where they end up performing better and being more effective. Like you said, Nigeria has a way of making us all tired because at every corner or step there are endless inhibitions that prevent us from reaching out true potential. I hope this problem is addressed soon for those of us that still believe in the country.

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    Replies
    1. As we work to impact positively through creating good businesses, we must always understand that we cannot 'entrepreneur' our way out of bad governance. The onus lies on us to ensure that our leaders are accountable and we work collaboratively with them to ensure that we build the Nigeria of our dreams.

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