Business Hilights

Tracking Nigeria's Headline Business News Online

Buhari smiles

Border closure: Foreign firms hitherto using Cotonou Port now seek local partners—Report

Ad 2
Ad 3

New report released weekend by the Business Hilights Intelligence Unit (BHIU), an independent investment research arm of Media Hilights Group, publishers of Business Hilights online news platform and Markets Business Hilights Newspapers, has revealed massive influx of international manufacturers seeking for local distribution partners for their goods.

According to the report, majority of international products before the border closure had been cheaply accessing Nigerian market by routing their containers through Cotonou Port in Benin Republic so that their goods can enter Nigeria via land borders.

The report said “Majority of foreign exhibitors at the recent Lagos International Trade Fair held at the TBS, Lagos Island, sealed product distribution deals with several companies and partners while the fair lasted.

“Some of the exhibitors also made sound plans of setting up either assembly or production plants in the country based on their discovery that the border closure has shrunk their Nigerian market access which had hitherto been via land borders.

Customs Border
Array of stranded mega trucks carrying genuine goods at Nigeria land borders since August 2019 due to closed border policy

Only last week, President/CEO, GYS, France, a French company that manufactures welding equipment to assemble steel, Bruno Bouygues, was in Nigeria with his team to explore chances of establishing products distribution partners.

The company has factories as well as commercial subsidiaries in France, Germany, UK, Italy, India, Morocco and China, and over 750 employees around the world.

Bouygues stressed that Nigeria was a country with enormous business opportunities in manufacturing, construction, real estate, oil and gas, which are major sectors of the country’s economy.

From his confession that GYS supplies products to neighbouring African countries but not to Nigeria, it was clear that the border closure really dropped the sales of the company, thus prompting his visit to Nigeria so as to begin direct imports than using neighbouring nations as the land borders remain closed.

In an interview, he made it clear that his purpose of visiting Nigeria is to prospect for clients, make partnerships and organize distributions for his company’s products.

Bouygues stressed that “I am very enthusiastic about the dynamism of the Nigerian economy. Lagos is incredibly a big city, though with a lot of traffic. Even though I knew Nigeria was a very big country, I didn’t measure the size until I arrived here.”

GYS boss, Bruno Bouygues
President/CEO, GYS, France, a French company that manufactures welding equipment to assemble steel, Bruno Bouygues

He further explained that over the next 10 years, GYS hopes to open factories in Africa, and this is to show that the visit to Nigeria makes it a very interesting place because there is big market for his kind of business.

“I think Nigeria is the right market for many types of products. First, I was very surprised at the level of proficiency in international business. Nigeria is very much used to deal in the sub-region but everywhere in the world. I saw a lot of talents in the entrepreneurs, which looks globally.

“What I saw is different from the image of Nigeria that is painted out there in developed climes. We may have an image of Nigeria of the past but not of the modern Nigeria. I was very impressed with the real estate development, oil and gas with shipyards particularly on the Island. I’m also impressed with the technical engineers that the country has.

“When you are in the field of welding, you have to discuss with engineers on what are the problems. The level of knowledge I encountered is incredibly good and I was immensely impressed with them. I work in the field of welding and automotive equipment. Nigeria is a place of opportunities for every industry.”

He explained that GYS is a French family-owned industrial group that engineers and manufactures arc welding, spot welding and automotive battery service (bsu, chargers, boosters, starters, jumper cables, testers) equipment.

It was founded in 1964, in Laval, France by Guy Yves Stephany with the purpose of manufacturing autotransformers on behalf of EDF, following its decision to change the electrical voltage in the western part of France from 110V to 230V.

Narrating the company’s trajectory, Bouygues stated that it was bought by two industrial holdings between 1980 and 1996. During the same period, the company expanded its portfolio of welding products. In 1997, the current management acquired it.

“The company had at the time a strong local brand in France for its battery charger range. The sale of welding products was more confidential and mostly concentrated in agricultural and automotive markets,” he stated.

Customs CG, Hameed-Ali
Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Retired Col. Hameed Ali

He noted that between 1997 and 2001, after the acquisition, significant investments were quickly made to modernize the historical French factory. Simultaneously, the management decided to expand the transformer-based welding machines range with the manufacturing of GYS first inverter electrode welding machine.

From 2004 to today, the group has expanded its three product families: Arc welding equipment — arc welder, TIG welder, MIG welder and Plasma cutter; Automotive body repair equipment — spot welder, dent puller, MIG welder, lifting equipment, and rivetting equipment, and Battery service equipment — battery charger, battery starter, booster and jumper cables.

Business Hilights is an online news channel conceptualized and structured to report and track on a daily basis; latest developments in critical business sectors to serve as a one stop news gateway for governments, foreign and indigenous investors.