Nigeria as experienced by us…
After many years of having put off travel to Africa, due to work exigencies true or assumed … we finally nailed down a date to travel to Lagos in February of 2018. It had been nearly ten years since my first placement with PepsiCo in Nigeria which started our African love story…while we had heard the myriad of stories over the years about the safety and security issues on the ground we went ahead with our plans with great aplomb. When you have been recruiting for two decades in the emerging market space you do separate the wheat from the chaff and take things with a pinch of salt!
All secured with our injections of yellow fever and malaria tablets off we went…And am so glad we did…!!
On day four I started writing down my thoughts of what we had been experiencing since the day we arrived. A cacophony of sound and color will greet you at the airport as you experience the bright colors worn by both genders, smiling faces as they hum to an inner beat when you step out of the airport you do see the abject poverty at one end and the opulence of the Victoria Islands. As in any developing nation you see the run down houses rubbing necks with the towering glass towers which heralds the new Lagos.
`The abundance of a certain tree type (no one could tell me the name) was a striking landscape feature, that you see around everywhere and for me it captured the essence of the country and its people. It grows everywhere and seemingly without care, stands tall despite the adversity surrounding it, the branches growing are layered and grow outwards which somehow defines the different tribes, thoughts, the markets all connected to the trunk the common vision of a better tomorrow. The outward growing branches are the millennials who have assertively gone into new professions moving away from the classic doctor, engineer etc mold. As the breeze passes through the branches you see them dance in gay abandon…an inner music that the Nigerians dance too…which makes them one of the top happiest nation in the world. Despite the traffic, despite roads which can reset your spine. What they see is the immense potential their country has and they are moving towards it.
A market of 190 million people it is the dream of any business and has historically been a trading zone for the enterprising who saw the opportunities to fill the empty shelves decades ago. Today it has the manufacturing capabilities of the major consumer good organizations, a booming telecom industry with great mobile / internet penetration, growing digitalization and most importantly you see Nigerian talent at the helm of the affairs and you see a steeply growing mid management talent pool essential for any country to move forward. A growing brand consciousness and aspiration for better living creates the demand in the markets.
In the fifteen days that we spent meeting various clients across different sectors and interacting late into the evenings with candidates across the board gave us an insight into how committed organizations were to stay the course within Nigeria. Recession being a great teacher had impacted or rather woken up a lot of companies to the fact that they needed to upgrade their capabilities and their systems. The classic way of working would not suffice anymore…something similar that we have experienced in Saudi Arabia in the past two years.
Speaking of Lagos, the city has become the role model for the rest of Nigeria. It was the first city to move from oil revenues to seek other areas of development and revenue generation. The leaps and bounds with which Lagos has grown in terms of infrastructure and business is evident from the fact that the economy of Lagos is bigger than the whole of Kenya and nominal per capita income is more than double the Nigerian average. The job market in Lagos is sailing strong riding on the tidal wave of new projects and an ever increasing startup fervor. The oil refinery is also located just a little distance from Lagos opening up new jobs in Nigeria. The chance of building your career and rising to the pinnacle of your choosing profession is higher in Lagos than any other city in Nigeria or West Africa. Apart from the job opportunities, Laos has an amazing music scene.., great restaurants of every hue and very good schooling..!
Such a growing economy comes with its own share of problems which are rather opportunities for the entrepreneur. Two other factors that greatly contribute to creation of jobs in Nigeria are a growing populace and the creation of Free Trade Zones in the country. An exponential increase in population leads to ever growing opportunities in agricultural sector. The FTZ’s have improved the investment climate leading to setting up of several projects and inviting foreign investment. At the moment, there are 25 operational FTZs, and many others are under construction.
And of yes before I end…we were two ladies out-n-about in Nigeria …on our own. We were either on the mainland for our meetings or on VI. Did not experience “safety issues”….had an amazing driver who enquired about each meeting and blessed us as we got out of the car to head into another office. The anticipated mosquitoes did disappoint as we would lather ourselves with anti-mosquito spray before heading down to the pool area to meet candidates and they did not put in an appearance…guess where we were bitten by mosquitos …in one of the client conference room
A great trip that will get most definitely get repeated …..We have for the last two decades helped organizations hire expats and then move to localization of their talent pool across Middle East and Africa…so looking forward to the Nigerians for Nigeria phase.
- Published on 20th June 2018 by Anjali Samuel, Managing Partner @ Mindfield Resources