Industry Experts, Business leaders, genuine entrepreneurs, Head of Government and decision makers in Nigeria will this weekend storm the United Kingdom, as the cream de la cream of the Commonwealth nations assembles in London, to attend the Commonwealth Business Forum 2018 (CBF 2018) which will hold from April 16 – 18, alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Their major task is to brainstorm, find, articulate and proffer solutions and business direction the Commonwealth should pursue in the near future, so as to effectively overcome unfolding global challenges.
Apart from President Muhammadu Buhari and top Government functionaries who are billed for CHOGM, the political front; the experts and gurus from Nigeria who would be at the CBF 2018 would include Nigeria’s foremost shipping mogul and Arrowhead of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun; the Chairman of the Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia; the former Minister of Finance and Chair, Africa Risk Capacity, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala; and the CEO, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Olusegun Awolowo.
Others would include the internet savvy Managing Director of the LADOL, Dr. Amy Jadesimi; the Chairman, Next International, Nigeria, Peter Obi; the CEO, L.A.T Cleveson Group Ltd, Sam Okwulehie; the Group Managing Director (GMD/CEO), PanAfrican Capital Holdings Limited, Chris Oshiafi; the Vice President, Famfa Oil, Folorunso Alakija; and Group CEO, Chimons Gas, Lawrence C Achigbu; as well as the Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Lagos State, Hon Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti amongst others.
Drawing attention to the genuine importance and selflessness of those who would be in attendance, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), Lord Marland of Odstock highlighted that not more than 800 persons, from over 50 Commonwealth countries were expected to attend; and provide a beam and a vision for the rapid growth of the economies of both their country and the countries making up the commonwealth.
Consequently, the participants must brainstorm on how the Commonwealth can be significantly strengthened through enduring Prosperity. In other words, ‘How can the Commonwealth lead the world in catalysing growth and championing free and fairer trade’?
One cardinal area where Nigeria would prominently feature is on the issue of ‘Blue Economy and Maritime Industry’, with core participants which include Engr. Greg Ogbeifun and Amy Jadesimi exploring how the Commonwealth can support sustainable blue growth whilst protecting our oceans.
Others who would also actively participate at the Blue topic would also include the Lord Mountevans, Vice-Chairman, Maritime UK; the Hon Ian Borg, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects, Malta; HE Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, Governor, Akwa Ibom State; Lewis Pugh, UN Patron of the Oceans and Andy Thorne, Chairman, Kestrel Group, UK.
Ironically, it could not be confirmed up to this minute, if the local promoter of the Blue Economy in Nigeria, the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) would be directly or indirectly represented. A source at the agency which spoke on condition of anonymity said the NIMASA management may not attend, not just because the event is strictly by invitation, but because the “management is presently preoccupied by other things, outside ‘Blue Economy’.”
Jim Ovia would however join the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State, Department for Digital, Culture Media to handle‘How Commonwealth businesses can keep ahead and engaged in an era of rapid technological innovation?’, alongside Gavin Starks, Founder, Dgen, UK- Silvio Schembri MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and-Innovation, Malta; Sir Kenneth Olisa, Founder and Chairman, Restoration Partners- & Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, UK; Gerard Grech, CEO, Tech Nation, UK; Neeraj Sahdev, Vice President and Head of Government Business, Wipro, India; Nigel Clifford, Chief Executive, Ordnance Survey UK; Amali de Alwis, CEO, Code First: Girls, UK; James Johns, Independent Digital Policy Advisor, Yardhope Ltd, UK; Alisa Choong, EVP Technical and Competitive IT, Royal Dutch Shell- Kyriacos Kokkinos, Board of Directors, Invest Cyprus.
Peter Obi would join John Williams, Head of Employer Engagement, ACCA UK to find ‘What can the attendees do to encourage SMEs to trade and invest confidently across the Commonwealth’, alongside others which include the Hon Adan Mohamed Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives,- Kenya The Hon Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister for Industry- & Commerce, Sri Lanka John Carroll, Head of International Business, Santander, UK- Deep Kapuria, Chairman, Hi-Tech Gears Limited, India- Mario Galea, CEO, Malta Enterprise, Malta- Peter Obi, Chairman, Next International, Nigeria- Geetha Muralidhar, Chairman/Managing Director, Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India- Agnes Hugot, Co-Founder, Cite Gestion Pte Ltd, Singapore- Nick Landon, Managing Director, Royal Mail Parcels, UK- Barry Leahey, Managing Director, Playdale, UK.
When Amy Jadesimi will chair the session on ‘How do we move from billions to trillions to help fund the SDGs?’ with others which will include the Commissioner, Business and Sustainable Development Commission- HE Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo President of the Republic of Ghana,- Graham Wrigley, Chairman, CDC Group- Richard Curtis, Founder, Project Everyone, amongst others.
The Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council facilitates trade and investment throughout the 53 states of the Commonwealth and supports private sector companies and governments to promote economic activity, working with member companies, to expand their businesses and to help with new investments in any Commonwealth country.