The Samphire Subsea team were in Lagos, Nigeria last week completing a market assessment visit. We were assisted by UKT&I who worked with us to compile the visit programme and SDI who provided general support to the visit. The intent was to meet with international oil companies, national oil companies and potential supply chain / JV partners.
Photograph (left to right): Idowu Babalola (Senior Trade Development Manager, UKT&I), Boma Beddie (UKT&I Rep), Paul Soutar (Managing Director, Samphire Subsea)
It was a very busy week and we managed to get round a good spread of our target companies to allow us to properly assess the market opportunity. In advance of our trip there had been much made of the security risk across the country, but through proper planning and sensible movement on the ground we experienced no issues which caused us to feel threatened. It is a hugely different culture and environment to the UK, which is one of the main reasons for the added risk but this also perhaps creates the opportunity.
Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa, estimated around 180 million people, so human resources are unlikely to be an issue in support of work or business. We found the local people to be colourful and positive types that were happy while striving to make progress.
Although there is a large proportion of the population which is relatively poor, there is a clear target to support learning and development and what is wrong with that, a basic human right across all societies. There is also a large well educated part of society that is thriving and engaged in pushing the country forward to improve in all areas across basic infrastructure; power generation, energy supply, transportation & roads, terminals and general city infrastructure development. There is much to be done across the country but some large projects in key areas have commenced and this will continue over the medium / longer term to provide the infrastructure required of an integrated modern society.
The nation appears to be less encumbered with structure, rules and regulations than the UK, which provides the opportunity for focusing on getting the job done. This seems to apply across all industry sectors and drives ingenuity, their focus is on bringing solutions to the problems and getting things done over how they achieve the end result. The country has vast potential and this pioneering spirit will be one of the keys to unlocking that in future.
There is much for the Samphire Subsea team to consider and assess from the initial country visit, but we do hope to be able to step into the market soon. There are lessons to take back into our existing business from what is clearly a different culture and also perhaps things to share that we can impart to the local people and business. One thing is for sure, we could not fail to learn how people adapt and be resourceful in different cultures and environments, as a minimum that fits with the current environment and perhaps is the best lesson of all.