Nigeria-Austria Business Forum 2018 took place recently in Vienna and was attended by businesspeople from countries and Nigerian government officials, including Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State.
The second Nigeria-Austria Business Forum took place on 28 June 2018 in Vienna, Austria, and it was dedicated to deepening trade ties between both countries.
The event was jointly organised by the Embassy of Nigeria in Austria and the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe, Austrian chapter (NIDOE-Austria), with the support of the Chamber of Commerce Vienna (WKO Wien) and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development Vienna (ICMPD).
The event was moderated by Mrs Rita Olatilewa Isiba.
In her welcome address, Her Excellency (Mrs) Vivian Okeke, the Nigerian Ambassador to Austria and the Republic Slovakia, emphasised that Nigeria was the largest economy in Africa and as a result the biggest business opportunity location in the continent.
The envoy invited Austrian investors to take advantage of the Business Forum to do business with Nigeria. She also pointed out the fact that Nigeria and Austria have had a very good business relationship dating back to the early 1960s.
The NIDOE-Austria chairman, Engineer Oluyemi Ogundele, in his short speech expressed his delight that after more than five years of waiting another Nigeria-Austria Business forum became a reality. He thanked Ambassador Okeke and the Nigerian mission in Austria for making it happen.
Mr Ogundele also expressed the gratitude of its organisation to all partners who contributed to the successful hosting of the Forum for their support. He ended his speech by informing the audience that the hall would have been filled to its capacity if not for the delay and refusal of issuing Austrian visa to prospective participants from Nigeria.
Participants were also addressed by the representative of the Austria Ministry for European Integration & Foreign Affairs, Ms Ulrike Ritzinger, who assured that Austria was a reliable location for investment and know-how for high quality exports. She also indicated that Austrian companies were aware of the business and investment potential of Nigeria and the fact that the country was also an important innovation hub.
Dr. Anton G. Ofner, the Vice President of WKO (the Austrian Chamber of Commerce), assured participants of his organisation’s cooperation and support when doing business with Austria. He noted that till date Austria had been importing crude oil and cocoa beans from Nigeria, which he said, had been developing very fast and diversifying its economy away from dependence on oil. Ofner offered WKO’s support in the efforts to diversify Nigeria’s economy.
He revealed that the Chamber had been discussing with Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State on business partnership and that they were close to signing a Memorandum of Understanding.
The forum was also addressed by Dr. Michael Spindelegger, former Vice-Chancellor of Austria (2011 to 2014) who is now the Director-General of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) who on behalf of his organisation said they were ready to help facilitate the objective of the Business forum.
The highlight of the event was the brilliant speech delivered by the Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Willie Obiano, who thanked the organizers of the event for inviting him and Anambra state to the Business Forum and informed the participants of the business potential in his state. He also indicated Anambra’s readiness to do business with the government and people of Austria, Europe and the entire world. In his word, “You are all welcome, Anambra is waiting”.
The last of the series of goodwill messages was given by Mrs Uduak M. Etokowoh, Director, International Export Office at the Nigeria Export Promotion Council, who spoke of the Federal Government’s Industrial Revolution scheme, which is making it easy to do business in the country.
The Business Forum also featured two sessions of panel discussions.
The first panel consisted of the representatives of all the important government agencies responsible for doing business in Nigeria, which included the Federal Ministry of Industries, Trade and investment, Ministry of Agriculture, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission and Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority.
The second panellists were Mr Georg Eder, an Austrian who has been doing business in Nigeria for over four decades; Dr Jones Edobor, immediate past Chairman of NIDOE-Austria who is also an economist and financial/investment consultant; and Engineer Festus Imarhiagbe, an agro-business expert and consultant.
All the panellists made short presentations and then took questions from the audience in the Q&A session. Every round of discussion was followed by a networking session where deals were sealed.
The 2nd Nigeria-Austria Business Forum was rounded up by a Gala and Awards Night, held at Hilton Hotel in Vienna.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of Awards of Excellence to individuals who have distinguished themselves in Business, Governance, Administration and in Voluntary Service to Humanity.
Among those honoured were Governor Obiano, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State; Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos, Mr Segun Awolowo, Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC); Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora; Dr. Walter Ruck, President, Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKO Wien); Iyalode Alaba Lawson, National President, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA); Dr Michael Spindelegger, Director General, International Centre for Migration Policy Development; Mr Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC); and Ambassador Okeke.