ACCOUNTING

Nigeria 2018 | ECONOMY | B2B

The major accounting firms are not only sticking by their local partners in times of need, but working to ensure they build society's trust in the country's financial health.

Uyi Akpata
UYI AKPATA
Country Senior Partner
PwC
Kunle Elebute
KUNLE ELEBUTE
National Senior Partner
KPMG

What is the importance of Nigeria to your portfolio?

UYI AKPATA PwC has been in Nigeria since 1953. At that time, it operated through its legacy firms, Price Waterhouse, and Coopers & Lybrand, until 1998, when the merger took place. Since then, we have been engaged in providing assurance, advisory and tax services to clients. Our key industry areas are energy and utilities, financial services, consumer products, and the public sector. The very reason we exist is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We create more impact in our involvement with government and the public sector. As a firm, over the years, we have grown steadily with currently about 1,000 people. Our network realizes the importance of our existence, and our ticket to the game is that we remain a strong global brand with an equally strong local presence. Leveraging our network, we service global and international clients in our market. Part of our global strategy is to be deeply embedded in, and operate effectively across the dominant and emerging economies around the world. Nigeria is, therefore, extremely important to sustaining the PwC brand.

KUNLE ELEBUTE We are the second-largest KPMG office on the continent and one of the most profitable. Nigeria is a key growth market that KPMG has identified as being an integral part of its growth strategy. The country has been growing well; however, our growth has outpaced the country's growth by a multiple of three. Additionally, Nigeria is one of the key growth markets in Africa, as there is a large private sector in Nigeria. Most countries have three types of private sectors: multinationals, foreign family businesses, and local businesses. With the exception of South Africa, Nigeria has the largest number of businesses owned by Nigerians. We have a large domestic economy that continually seeks ways to expand their businesses across the continent. My priority has been to ensure we are at the top of the market, and to do so we must engage with all our clients. 2016 was a tough year for most companies in Nigeria because of the recession and the reduction in supply of foreign exchange. Our clients have been great to us over the years, so in a tough environment clients need to understand we are there for them, which means being engaged, striving to understand their issues and problems, and finding solutions where possible. The main focus has been maintaining a strong focus on key areas of the market, visiting clients, and being in the marketplace in a meaningful way. We also try to be in the media as much as possible through conferences, social media, and print media.

How do you contribute to the development of the country?

UA This is an area we arguably give the most attention. We have a public-sector group that ensures we are providing the right services to our public-sector clients. In the last five years, we have championed various initiatives by working in conjunction with different arms and agencies of government. At the federal level, we have led various initiatives in project monitoring and direct policy interventions. We were instrumental to the development of a road map for the mining sector, working with the Ministry of Mines and Steel. We are also involved with the power sector reforms and have instituted an important stakeholder engagement forum for the sector, the annual PwC power roundtable. In addition, we have worked with the Minister of Finance in the areas of controls and efficiency and tax policy reforms. In Lagos state, we are involved in monitoring implementation of strategy. We have also issued various publications that help to shape public policy and guide the government. Looking ahead, we want to remain the number one professional services brand and be generally recognized in the marketplace as a firm that is working to build trust in society.

KE One of the most important things we can do is influence the development of clear regulations. As we move from a government-controlled economy to a free market, we need to have a clear relationship between regulators and operators. Regulators have an opportunity to ensure that the shift between economic models can be achieved in the best way possible. This has been the case in the telecoms industry, where the regulations were changed or adjusted to stimulate investment. Regulation can induce and facilitate shifts in technology. KPMG can help influence regulation so that it can influence growth and development in the right way. One of our largest risks is infrastructure, because the government does not have the capital to spend on projects of such magnitude. Over the last 10-15 years, Lagos has developed rapidly because the government has invested the majority of its internally generated revenue in infrastructure. The more infrastructure a city has, the easier and more pleasant it is to do business and the more taxpayers pay their taxes. It becomes a virtuous circle that stimulates the economy and raises value.