FROM GROUND UP

Nigeria 2018 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Manssour Jarmakani, Group CEO of Jagal, on growing organic Nigerian content, making sure both partners add value, and better communicating government policy.

Manssour Jarmakani
BIOGRAPHY
Manssour Jarmakani studied at the American International School in Lagos and the American Community School in Hillingdon UK before studying management, marketing, and IT logistics at the D'Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University. He has been part of the leadership of Jagal since 1998 and is currently the Group CEO.

What is Jagal's contribution to developing local content in Nigeria?

As a Nigerian company, everything we do has to do with local content. The difference between being a passenger and a local content champion is in providing sustainable capacity that can also be emulated and copied by other organizations in Nigeria. Our contribution is via those who have gone through our training academy and gained skills they subsequently passed on to other companies and employers, i.e. people who used to work for us and projects that we have executed. Nigerian content is an organism that needs to continue to grow and flourish. It needs to transcend the value chain. We do not need to make 100% in Nigeria for Nigeria; we need to create 100% in Nigeria for the rest of the world and export Nigerian capability, capacity, expertise, and technology. This is the future for the country. We set a standard that is world-class because we do not accept those saying that if it is done in Nigeria it is second rate. That is something that we have done, whether it is in our training institute on welding, best practices, the way we plan projects, or our data center, Rack Center, a tier-3 data center that was the first of its kind in West Africa and something we are extremely proud of.

How do you act as a bridge between Nigeria and the international investor community?

Partnerships are based on a win-win situation between two organizations. Companies have to bring value to a partnership, as do their partners. For companies that want to come into Nigeria just to collect their profits and leave, this is not the place for them. For those who see Nigeria as a long-term opportunity and who see the benefit of investing in this country, deploying its vast resources, bringing in technology, and adding value, we offer the counterpart of that. The way we add value is to look at the local environment. We invest with our partners, and that investment is not just financial; it is in people, knowledge, and the ability to improve the ease of doing business here. Nigeria, at times, has a negative reputation because people have a preconceived notion about what is difficult and what is not. Every country has its own culture, and a company just has to understand the way we do business in Nigeria. We try to bring in those opportunities; we do a proper SWOT analysis on the opportunities, threats, challenges, and requirements that need to be deployed to make the partnership successful. Nigeria still has an amazing untapped agriculture, technology, and financial infrastructure, and if companies change the way they look at Nigeria they will see Nigeria adapting to suit their investment.

What is the importance for companies like Jagal for the current Nigerian government and the country's diversification?

The key benefits are employment, the transfer of skills and technology, and capacity building. The most important thing is sustainable economic policies that deliver long-term jobs and opportunities for growth. Nigeria deserves these opportunities and is able to execute projects that are new, high-end, technology driven, and people driven. It is the right country for economic growth.

What would you say to foreign investors looking to do business in Nigeria?

They should look at the success stories. They should look at our business and what we have been able to achieve, what we have done in the Rack Center, what we have done in manufacturing, and look at other big conglomerates. In the telecoms sector, there are many positive experiences, transactions, and excellent examples of how Nigeria is a successful story and an opportunity for investors. Whenever an investor has been swindled or experiences fraud, it is typically their fault; one does not blame someone else for their mistakes. We need to communicate government policy better; once harmonized and better communicated, this will improve the business environment.