The Global Chief Executive Officer, Unilever, Paul Polman has said that the company invested over €120 million in the country in the last three years, apart from attracting about $80 million Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) to the Nigerian economy. Speaking during a visit to the Lagos State governor-elect, Akinwunmi Ambode, in Lagos, Polman urged the in-coming administration in Lagos to ensure the business environment is more competitive towards improved ease of doing business in the state. He said this would attract and encourage investors to the state.
Mr. Polman, who used the occasion to reaffirm Unilever’s continued commitment to Nigeria, promised to continue to attract more FDIs to Nigeria, underlining the company’s commitment to growing business sustainably, while delivering innovative brands for Nigerian consumers. “As we grow our business, we also want to showcase the huge business opportunities in Nigeria by inviting foreign investors to set up businesses in the country,” Mr. Polman said. Unilever, Mr. Polman said, has already made laudable strides in attracting new businesses to the country through the ’Partner to Win’ Africa Investment Conference held last year.
The conference was attended by supplier representatives from across the world, alongside Unilever senior executives, to discuss investment opportunities and explore strategic partnerships. “For us (Unilever), we will keep investing in Nigeria. We will also sustain efforts that attract other investors, because we understand that these will create value for the economy,” Mr. Polman said.
Although he acknowledged the challenges businesses face in the Nigerian environment, the Unilever boss stressed the need for greater drive to redress the bottlenecks and bureaucracies that translate into lost time, which discourage investors. Highlighting the company’s reinvestment to its operating community, Mr. Polman spoke about the Unilever Sustainability Living Plan (USLP), with evidence in key priority areas, including improved health and wellbeing of Nigerians, reducing environmental impact and enhancing the people’s general livelihood.
Responding, Mr. Ambode promised to ensure an enabling business environment for investors, as his administration was poised at positioning Lagos for greater business. The level of investments in Lagos, Mr. Ambode noted, reflected those of the country, adding that his administration would be interested in increasing investments in the state as well as create a one-stop shop in the State for Investor relations issues. “We know Unilever is a major job creator, and we hope that you will continue to create the jobs for Lagos citizens. We will continue to support you in this regard”, Mr. Ambode stated. “I intend to run an incentivebased government, rather than an enforcement one. We are willing to create incentives as long as people are ready to create jobs,” he added.