[Interview] Goodie M. Ibru, Founder, Ikeja Hotel, Nigeria
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Goodie M. Ibru is the founder of Ikeja Hotel Plc. With over ﬁfty years in business ownership and management, Goodie M. Ibru is a leading player in the Nigerian Capital Market and is a former President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange as well as of Lagos Chamber of Commerce. He also made remarkable contributions to Tourism development in Nigeria; he was the Pioneer President of the Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria. He represented Nigeria on the United Nations Committee on International Code of Ethics on Tourism.
A lawyer and publisher of law books, Goodie M. Ibru is the Founder and Principal Partner of G.M. Ibru & Co., a law ﬁrm which specializes in domestic and international business transactions involving the formation of strategic alliances and business arrangements in Commercial transaction especially in the areas of hospitality, tourism, banking and ﬁnance, construction, agriculture and real estate.
Mr. Ibru is the Vice President (West Africa) of the African Business Roundtable where he leads the Roundtable’s engagements in mobilizing both international and domestic resources into strategic West African growing markets.
Please tell us about your company.
Ikeja Hotel Plc was incorporated as Properties Development Limited (PDL) on November 18, 1972 with a view to providing world-class hotel and catering services to meet the needs of an ever-increasing number of local and international business and leisure travelers entering the city of Lagos. The Company’s name was later changed to Ikeja Hotel Limited in October 1980. It became a public company in 1983, and assumed its present name on February 5, 1991.
The principal business of Ikeja Hotel Plc is the provision of services in the hospitality industry, including the development of other tourist facilities. It has continually expanded its participation in Nigeria’s hospitality industry through the development and acquisition of hotel and tourist facilities. Today Ikeja Hotel boasts of direct or indirect ownership and control of three of Nigeria’s leading five-star hotels, namely Sheraton Lagos Hotel, Sheraton Abuja Hotel and Federal Palace Hotels & Casino.
With the insight you have into the trade and investment layout on the continent, how would you say the AfCFTA impacts the economy of your country?
Talking about the trade and investment layout of the African Continent, I would say it is a story of both promise and missed opportunities. With a population of over 1.2 billion, Africa promises a huge and promising market. Africa’s advantage is enormous: huge population, vast landscape, natural and mineral resources, the right demographics in terms of youth in the working age bracket, the ingenuity and energy of a rising class of educated work force. But then the challenges facing the continent are enormous as well: poverty and unemployment, slow pace of industrialization, poor infrastructure facilities, poor adherence to the rule of law and inefficient judiciary stern, conflict and insecurity, threats to peace and security, huge capital flight, lack of access to capital, technology deficit for economic transformation and a host of other problems too many to mention here.
All these account for the low pace of industrialization, low level of investment and trade on the continent. For instance, Africa’s contribution to global trade is just 2%. The continent can trade only what it produces, so when production is low, trade will be low. Apart from that, intra-African trade is low both in absolute and relative terms. This is the problem that the African Continental Free Trade Area AfCTFTA is designed to redress.
Having said that, it is sad to note that the AfCFTA could not take off on time as scheduled until 2021 due to the covid-19 pandemic. The structures of the AfCFTA are just emerging. The good thing however is that Africans are very optimistic about the turnaround which the AfCFTA will bring to the African economy- both economic practitioners and theoreticians are looking forward to an increase in productivity and trade as a result of a higher market under the new arrangement. It remains to be seen if the AfCFTA will live up to expectation.
What can African governments do, individually and jointly, to elevate the continent’s private sector?
African governments need to do more to elevate the continent’s private sector. The main challenge is to put in place a conducive environment for private enterprise to thrive.
When the rule of law is firmly in place, the interest of investors in the system will be strengthened. Nobody wants to invest in an economy where policy consistency is absent. Also African Governments must invest in infrastructure – both physical and human infrastructure. Financial inclusion is another area where African governments should intensify efforts.
Collectively, the promotion of the freedom of people, goods, services and capital among the 54 countries will overcome the challenge of smallness of size, isolated markets and artificial barriers which a lot of countries have continued to contend with. That will promote intra- African trade, unlock resources and opportunities for many countries, especially those that depend on imports and exports.
What government policies can be implemented for local industries to thrive in Nigeria?
Supporting local industries will require some policy mix in some areas: the infrastructure of the area must be well developed – transport, energy, water facilities. African Industrialists will like to take advantage of large scale production, so access to market is key both at domestic level as well as for exports. There should be access to capital, land use act must be such that it allows title deeds to be perfected and be usable as collateral for bank borrowing. Access roads to farms, markets and ports should make doing business easy. In addition, I will assume that each local area has peculiarities and challenges that are specific to each, so the Government will do well in addressing such challenges to encourage the expansion of industries and industrialization at the local levels. You will be amazed about how local industries, if well supported, can play a big role in the international trading system and contributing to the global value chain.
The African Business Roundtable, of which you’re a founding member, has inked several strategic partnerships and forged useful alliances over the years, always to the benefit of Africa’s private sector. What can we expect for the future?
ABR’s story is the story of the development of Africa’s Private Sector. When the ABR started in the late 80’s, governments across Africa dominated the economic space to the exclusion of private sector entities. The ABR started with Public-Private Sector partnerships and promoted the private sector as the real engine of growth.
That was in the past. In today’s and tomorrow’s competitive world, only economies that play strong will survive. The ABR is supporting African economies to be strong players and to ensure that Africa does not continue to be a global basket case, but rather to make our continent a part of the solution to global challenges.
Since the ABR was formed 32 years ago a lot has changed in the world. Technology has transformed the way everything is done. How does the Roundtable stay on top of these disruptive changes?
The world has experienced some mind boggling technological advances in almost all spheres of human endeavor, especially in the last three decades. The ABR has been part of the move. Science and technology helps in diverse areas such as health, industries and industrialization, project design, banking and finance, oil and gas, etc. ABR’s conviction in this regard holds strong and it is that conviction that will shape ABR’s engagement with countries and companies in the future. All I will like to add is that in the move of the wave of technology across the globe, the ABR stands ready.
Are there, or will there be seats on the board of ABR for the youth?
Obviously, that’s the way to go. Many companies are springing up across the continent lately, and they are led by young, energetic men and women driven by ideas and passion for what they do. They are also determined to change the story of Africa. These youth are already playing some roles in the ABR and I see them doing more in the coming years. They will not only have a seat on the Board of the ABR, they will actually lead the ABR, just like we expect them to play leadership roles across the continent at the national or corporate levels.
About the African Business Roundtable
The African Development Bank Group set up the African Business Roundtable in 1990. Today the ABR is Africa’s foremost and continent-wide association of businesses and business leaders, and is the representative of the African Business Society to the United Nations. An independent, non-partisan, non-profit private sector funded organization, The African Business Roundtable is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) and is the only organization representing the African Private Sector within ECOSOC.
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