Nigeria has immense potential

The Managing Director for Energy Project Finance talks about his new role as Nigeria Ambassador for Global Finance (GLFI).

What are the challenges in developing the visibility of GLFI in Nigeria?

The key challenge is not being there on the ground. We rely on in-country people when developing projects to provide local expertise and develop relationships with key stakeholders such as the government and relevant companies. It would be much harder to cultivate and maintain a strong network without this presence. The role requires us to remain fully abreast of all developments in Nigeria – political, economic or environmental - to anticipate changes that could create opportunities. Visiting Nigeria regularly helps maintain my network and develop contacts.

What are the opportunities for Societe Generale in Nigeria?

The GLFI opportunities are largely based on natural resources and infrastructure. There are a number of local players, so we will continue to adopt a selective approach. From a projects viewpoint, we always look for compelling rationales that could withstand the transient periods of volatility we see in commodity markets. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and has immense potential. We must be mindful of local requirements which will need us to team up with local banks and financial institutions. This will broaden our relationship base in the country. So far, our reputation in natural resources has helped us to strike-up partnerships with the stronger local names.

What experience do you bring to the role?

I have been involved in Nigeria for more than a decade. One of my first tasks on joining the bank in 2006 was upgrading our Nigerian access given the country's status as a significant oil and gas producer. During 2006-2007, I was part of the shipping team which was active on Liquified Natural Gas shipping deals in the country. Since my move into Natural Resources & Energy Financing (NAT), we have looked at the energy value chain more broadly from upstream projects through to local consumption projects such as fertiliser and refineries.