The Czech agency for boosting exports and two-way trade, CzechTrade, has opened an office in the biggest economy in Africa, Nigeria. Nigeria is estimated to have overtaken South Africa to first place as Africa’s biggest economic power in 2014.
The Czech office in the largest city Lagos will be looking to get a greater stake in the US 500 billion dollars a year economy with a population of 188.5 million. At the moment Czech exports to Nigeria are fairly meagre and stood at around US 80 million in 2015. CzechTrade already has offices in Egypt, Morocco, and South Africa.
Nigeria is perceived as a promising target country with the government keen to help investors and foreign business and tackle corruption, one of the biggest blights on the local economy. CzechTrade’s director Radomil Doležal says the Czech Republic is regarded as a friendly country and Czech exporters can build on a solid reputation of sales to in the past.
Nigeria’s economy is largely founded on oil – the country is the 12th largest exporter in the world – and the energy business covering oil and gas as well as their processing and downstream use are likely to be one of the main targets for Czech exporters. And the national energy market also requires heavy investment in power plants to produce electricity and the grid to ship it around the country. Many businesses, even in the main city Lagos, rely on back up generators because daily power failures are so frequent.
Besides energy, agriculture is also seen as another area where Czech material exports and know-how could have a role. Nigeria wants to develop its own agriculture, hampered by transport and energy problems, and to help the sector branch out into new areas such as biomass production for local power plants. A delegation led by Czech Minister of Agriculture visited Nigeria in May last year to get a feel for the opportunities on offer. Czech exports and expertise could also be targeted at the flourishing local textiles market, arms industry, and building sector.
A free trade regime between the European Union and Nigeria paves the way for obstacle free exports and that opportunity has already been seized on by Czech car maker Škoda Auto, plane maker Aero Vodochody, and the tradition textile producer for the African market, Veba Broumov.
Nigeria is considered by many internal economic institutions to be a sort of second line BRICS country, ready soon to make the jump from developing to fast expanding developed economy.