SIGNS OF SUCCESS

Nigeria 2019 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

The founding philosophy of Transcorp is and remains changing the African story by transforming lives and empowering people.

Valentine Ozigbo
BIOGRAPHY
Valentine Ozigbo is the President & CEO of Transcorp PLC. Prior to this, he was the MD & CEO of Transcorp Hotels Plc. and owner of the Transcorp Hilton Abuja and Transcorp Hotels Calabar. He is a banker and accountant with over 20 years’ experience in commercial, retail, investment, and international banking. Ozigbo is a graduate of Lancaster University, UK where he bagged a distinction in MSc finance. He also has an MBA in banking and finance and a B.Sc in accounting, both from the University of Nigeria.

What is your vision, and what areas will you focus on as the new President & CEO of Transcorp?

My vision and focus is informed and shaped first by the agenda set by our Group Chairman, Tony Elumelu, and secondly by the founding philosophy of Transcorp, which is about changing the African story by transforming lives and empowering people. In line with this, I will focus on deepening Transcorp's play in various businesses that Transcorp is currently involved in. Transcorp currently operates in the hospitality, power, and oil and gas sectors. Accordingly, under my leadership, we will pursue our mid- to long-term strategy of providing 25% of Nigeria's power consumption, extend our hospitality presence to key cities and towns starting with Lagos, and develop our oil and gas asset into commercial production. I will also pursue the expansion of existing business lines by bringing in new businesses, preferably from other sectors that Transcorp is currently not operating in. As long-term investors, we prefer sectors that are catalytic and impactful in nature. I have always envisioned Transcorp as a global reference point in terms of governance. Accordingly, I intend to strengthen governance at the management level, which is critical, while supporting the board to ensure consistent improvement in governance structures and practices.

How challenging is it to operate in an environment where you have power tariffs?

Electricity is a regulated utility worldwide. The challenge in our environment is that existing tariffs are not cost-reflective, thus compelling operators like us to operate under the excruciating burden of indirectly subsidizing the industry. The key impact of the current tariff regime we operate is that our power business is not as profitable as it should be. This impacts our investment capacity negatively, and we are constrained from making the required investments that will enable us to meet our set capacity expansion targets. This is further compounded by the fact that Transcorp Power is owed huge outstanding payments by the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) for electricity generated and supplied to the national grid; however, we will intensify engagement with key stakeholders to address these issues, which also impact the entire power sector and the Nigerian economy negatively.

What can be done to improve the tourism sector and make Nigeria a better leisure and business destination?

Tourism is to several countries what oil is to Nigeria. It is the mainstay and biggest income generator and an industry that helps reduce unemployment because for every dollar spent on tourism, more jobs are generated than in any other sector. It is therefore a critical sector not just for the size of the economy but for the real impacts on people. Still, Nigeria has not taken full advantage of its tourism potential and needs to work on a number of factors, such as infrastructure, policy and governance, products and services, and marketing to be able to do this. One of the issues around policy and governance is the lack of standardization. It is not possible to tell if a hotel is ranked three or four stars since there is no proper standardization, and if this simple anomaly can be addressed, the spirit of competition will encourage private-sector operators to up their games to improve the overall service offering. Governments at different levels should create a more enabling environment for people to invest in tourism. Measures like tax incentives or holidays and duty waivers will encourage investments in the sector. There is also a marketing aspect to this. We need to showcase our tradition through museums, artifacts, paintings, sites, and music. Every state governor should be its chief marketing officer. Some governors are doing a great job. A great deal more destination marketing needs to be done.