[Interview] Chris Okoro, CEO, Eunisell Interlinked, Nigeria
Chris Okoro is an entrepreneur and business strategist skilled in the Financial Services and Engineering sector. He's currently the Managing Director and CEO of Eunisell Interlinked Plc., Nigeria.
Please tell us about your company.
Eunisell Interlinked Plc was incorporated in Nigeria in 1981 as Raychem Nigeria Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Raychem Corporation of Menlo Park, California (now TE Connectivity). Following the divestment of Raychem Corporation, the Company went public in 1993 by listing and trading on the floor of the Nigeria Exchange Limited (NGX). It is currently owned by the public with almost five thousand shareholders in the Register of Members.
The Company was exclusively devoted to the distribution of the then novel Heat Shrink Technology, pioneered by Raychem Corporation. Its original market was in Electrical Engineering, Power Distribution, and Industrial Process Temperature Maintenance. It has since diversified into procurement and installation of complete power distribution substations; and the distribution of mechanical transmission bearings and accessories. The company additionally serves as a major distributor and representative for various multinational corporations.
Eunisell Interlinked has its Head Office in Lagos, maintains a liaison office in Abuja and outposts in Port Harcourt and Warri, all in Nigeria.
Which industries do you service?
The Company provides engineering and technology solutions to clients in diverse sectors including Power, Oil and Gas, Manufacturing and Construction.
What is the company’s growth strategy for 2023? Are you working on new projects, expansion into new markets, forging new partnerships?
Our growth strategy for the year is two-pronged – Local and Regional expansion.
Local growth will be achieved through the expansion of customer base by increasing market shares in existing clients’ businesses; adding new local clients to existing clientele list; expanding product offering by adding new products to the existing products’ offering.
To achieve the regional expansion goals, we intend to obtain distributorship of some Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in new West African Regional markets. Discussions are currently on-going and advancing with a couple of these target OEMs, some of whom we already represent in the Nigerian market.
We also plan to acquire a couple of assets to achieve above expansion, especially in the regional markets we plan to penetrate.
What are the long term ambitions you’re aiming for, as an organization?
Our long-term ambition, in line with the Company’s mission, is to dominate the engineering services sector, especially the electrical engineering sub-sector, of the Nigerian market through the provision of superior engineering products and services. We intend to be the partner of choice to consultants and clients in this field.
Foray into more regional and some international markets should be expected in the near future.
How do you perceive the 2023 Nigerian elections will impact local businesses and the economy, if at all?
The 2023 elections, like every election round in Nigeria, will have (and is already having) far reaching impacts on local businesses and the economy.
Government devotes a lot of attention and resources to the election at the expense of economic and developmental issues. It is normal for the government to ignore burning economic concerns to focus of prosecuting and winning elections.
Foreign investment inflow will reduce while huge outflows are anticipated as foreign portfolio and direct investors repatriate funds back home due to uncertainties that accompany elections in Nigeria. This will result in scarcity of funds, driving up interest rates. Consequently, local businesses will face funding challenges in terms of availability and cost of funds.
What government policies can be implemented for companies to thrive in Nigeria?
Foreign exchange reforms – unification of the different foreign exchange rate regimes into a singular rate for transparency.
Port Reforms – Excessive bureaucracy and corruption at Nigerian ports discourage both importation and exportation of goods. Goods meant for the Nigerian market are quite often diverted to neighboring countries’ ports with some of the goods later smuggled back into Nigeria by land borders. A lot of revenue is lost by the government in the process while companies run huge costs. Reforms that will reduce this bureaucracy and corruption, probably through the introduction of technology, will speed up the goods clearing process.
Legal System Reforms – Businesses, local and international, will benefit from a reform in the legal system that will improve the speed of the courts in dispensing justice and adjudicating business cases.
Security Architecture Reforms – Security was a key challenge to Nigerian businesses in 2022. A reform in this sector will help a lot. State and neighborhood policing are recommended for improvement in security of life and properties thus spurring economic activities across the country.
Ease of doing business – Nigeria has to drastically improve on its ease of doing business ranking in 2023. According to World Bank annual rankings, Nigeria is currently ranked 131 out of 190 economies in the world. Implementing some or all of the above reforms will have a positive impact on Nigeria’s ease of doing business ranking.
Which African countries do you predict will perform best economically in 2023?
Despite World Bank’s forecast for reduced growth rate in Africa for 2023, some African economies are still expected to post strong growth performance in the year.
Some of these economies with expected solid growth rates in 2023 are Senegal (9.6%), Ivory Coast (7.1%) and Rwanda at anticipated 6.2% growth rate in 2023.
Senegal’s economic fortunes in 2023 will be riding on the waves of its first gas production and predicted improved investment in the country’s mining sector; while the exploration of Ivory Coast’s huge offshore oil and natural gas reserves, coupled with its agricultural prowess in cocoa, coffee and palm oil have continued to boost the country’s economy. Rwanda is expected to sustain its consistent high growth in the last few years.
How will Africa develop as a knowledge economy in 2023 and how can companiescontribute?
Part of the key challenges of developing the African knowledge economy is the excessive migration of its best and brightest brains to the western world, otherwise known as ‘brain drain’ or ‘Japa’ in local Nigerian parlance. African governments must formulate and implement policies to stem this tide and possibly reverse the trend.
Proper management of the expatriate quota system will equally help in developing the knowledge economy of African states in 2023. Expatriates should be recruited for only positions where there is shortage of local qualified manpower while the authorities should ensure that there is intentional and monitored policy for the transfer of knowledge and expertise from the expatriates to their indigenous understudies.
Companies can contribute by expending adequate funds in research, training & development as well as other knowledge enhancing activities.