By Ajong Mbapndah L
The Nigeria-USA Chamber of Commerce-NUSACC is scheduled to host the 3rd International Trade & Investment Summit in Lagos, Nigeria. Taking place on August 10th, the
Summit in Lagos will primarily be a business matchmaking initiative to introduce American Businesses to Nigerian Businesses .In attendance will be former President Olusegun Obasanjo as guest of honor, to the federal minister of Trade & Investment as the key note speaker .Other guests would include the federal minister of power, Lagos and Kogi State Governors. In an interview with PAV, Kareem Lee the Chambers CEO says NUSACC will be leading more than 23 business men and women from the United States to interact with about 200 business men and women in Nigeria at the Summit. Businesses expected to participate at the Summit will include Construction, Healthcare, Logistics, Oil, Information Technology, Semiconducting and Real
Estate Development Industries. With almost 170 million English speaking consumers, and vast natural resources, the business climate in Nigeria today is very promising says Mr Kareem Lee. Interviewed by Ajong Mbapndah L, Kareem Lee introduces NUSACC, the upcoming Investment Summit and more on Nigeria.
PAV: Could you start by introducing the Nigeria-USA Chamber of Commerce to us, when it was created, its membership and what it does?
Kareem Lee: The Nigeria USA Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC) was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in the State of Ohio in August of 2010 and it began operations in March of 2011. It is certified as a Tax Exempt Organization under the US IRS Code Section 501 (C ) 6.
NUSACC was established as an international business and legislative advocacy organization with a primary focus on Nigeria and the US. It’s membership is rapidly growing with individual and corporate members in the States of Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Texas, New York and in Nigeria.
PAV: May we know some of the significant achievements of the Chamber since its creation?
Kareem Lee: NUSACC’s first two Trade & Investment Summits in Cleveland, Ohio drew representatives from 150 organizations; NUSACC has established affiliation with the following organizations: The National Black Chamber of Commerce, Cleveland Council on World Affairs, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, The US Department of Commerce, The US Small Business Administration. NUSACC has a close working relationship with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Washington, DC. NUSACC also has an indirect affiliate relationship with the US Export Import Bank and it is represented at the Construction Committee of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.
NUSACC has successfully assisted American Businesses in obtaining Visas to visit Nigeria, setting up Bank Accounts in Nigeria, finding distributors for their products, distributing samples of their products to getting their products registered and/or certified for distribution in Nigeria. Conversely, NUSACC has assisted Nigerian businesses with due diligence on American Businesses, product and service procurement sourcing.
NUSACCC has offices and Representatives in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Lagos and it is currently establishing relationships with the Abuja Chamber of Commerce, Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Nigerian National Chamber of Commerce and Ogun State Chamber of Commerce.
PAV: We understand that the Chamber will be organizing an International the International Business Summit in Lagos , could you tell us more about the Summit and some of its highlights?
Kareem Lee: The 3rd International Trade & Investment Summit in Lagos will primarily be a business matchmaking initiative to introduce American Businesses to Nigerian Businesses. Business and Political leaders have been lined up to address the Summit, from Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo as the Guest of Honor, to the federal minister of Trade & Investment as the key note speaker; other guests would include the federal minister of power, Lagos and Kogi State Governors, delegates from States and Business leaders. NUSACC will be leading more than 23 business men and women from the United States to interact with about 200 business men and women in Nigeria at the Summit. NUSACC believes that the highlights of the Summit would be during the Break out Sessions where each Business representative from the US would have the opportunity to network and perhaps consummate business deals with their Nigerian counterparts.
PAV: So what will it take to be part of the Summit and what should those attending expect to achieve?
Kareem Lee: For non-NUSACC members, registration fee to attend the Summit is $350. Those who attend the Summit would have the opportunity to interact with individuals representing 200 businesses in Nigeria, including opportunity to hear first hand the Nigerian Government’s Trade & Investment policy as well as views of leading American and Nigerian Business men and women with respect to current business environment in Nigeria.
PAV: Any idea about some of the partners and companies expected at the Summit so as to convince a few more last minute participants?
Kareem Lee: Some of the American businesses that would be represented at the Summit are drawn from Construction, Healthcare, Logistics, Oil, Information Technology, Semiconducting and Real
Estate Development Industries.
PAV: How will you describe the business climate in Nigeria today?
Kareem Lee: With almost 170 million English speaking consumers, and vast natural resources, the business climate in Nigeria today is very promising, considering that its economy grew at the rate of 8% and 7.5% in 2010 and 2011 respectively, compared to 2% growth rate for the US economy in 2010. It is the fastest growing economy in Africa. According to the IMF, Nigeria became the World’s 30th largest economy in 2011, and it is on the trajectory to surpass South Africa as Africa’s largest economy in 2014.
PAV: The question is asked because the news on Nigeria is dominated by attacks from the Boko Haram, tales of corruption etc, the country no doubt has potential, but is the climate such that it could embrace sustainable investment?
Kareem Lee: It is not NUSACC’s role to defend Boko Haram’s attacks on Nigeria anymore than it is the US Chamber of Commerce’s role to defend Al Qaida’s attack on the US’ World Trade Center killing more than 3,000 innocent people. And corruption is just as much a plague in Nigeria as it is right here in the United States, only Nigeria gets more publicity for it. Be that as it may, Nigeria is still a relatively young democratic society that is working hard to address the chronic problem of corruption and other impediments to its economic development. The brisk investment activity going on in Nigeria where the Chinese are at the forefront is a testament to sustainable investment and this is where NUSACC sees an opportunity to shorten the gap between the Chinese and American investors in Nigeria.
PAV: We do not know the kind of ties the Chamber has with the Nigerian Government but if there were recommendations you had for them on how to ease the socio economic and even political climate in the country what will there be?
Kareem Lee: NUSACC’s relationship with the Nigerian Government is that of a business advocate. As the organization grows, it will embrace and develop its other mission, which is that of a legislative advocate during which time it will be in a position to make legislative recommendations to the government.
At this time, NUSACC’s focus is to concentrate on its business advocacy role and channel its business-specific recommendations through the proper channels to the government when necessary
PAV: Besides the Summit are there any other activities that the Chamber is working on for the rest of the year?
Kareem Lee:NUSACC will soon launch a periodic News letter to keep its membership informed of current and emerging business opportunities in the US and Nigeria. A monthly business mixer is being planned to be launched before the end of the year.
PAV: Thanks for introducing the Chambers to PAV
Kareem Lee: Thank you too
*More on the Chamber can be viewed at www.nusacc.us