Message from the Chairman
Since its inception, the Council has carved out a unique place in the trade/investment promotion space, advancing US-Nigeria commercial relations while leveraging the strength of its membership to act as a convener, bringing together the resources and vision of US and Nigerian corporate executives with some of the most innovative entrepreneurs on the African continent. One of our earliest collaborations, for example, was in Tomato Jos, an initiative launched by a young American to empower Nigerian farmers and leverage the country’s position as the largest producer of tomatoes in West Africa to manufacture a “made in Nigeria” tomato paste, reducing the need to import from China. Another USNC collaboration project, in Reel Fruit, enabled a Nigerian businesswoman to scale up her production of healthy snacks made from local produce, and we then facilitated her discussions with representatives of a major US airline about placing her product on its international flights.
For the past two years, and in response to sustained input from our members, the Council has focused its energy on Nigeria’s tech ecosystem, working to support the vision of a “Naija Valley” tech hub that can incubate the talents of the astonishing diversity of Nigerian entrepreneurs operating in this space. We heard from many of these gifted young start-up representatives during our events in Washington and New York, and we offered them a prominent platform at our December 2019 dinner in Lagos. We are now compiling a report for our members with a snapshot of each of these exciting companies and we hope to build on the synergies created during our 2019 events to empower them in a more sustained fashion.
The Council continues to enjoy outstanding connectivity to the highest levels of the US and Nigerian governments. We were honored to count among our distinguished guests at our 2019 events Executive Governors, Federal Ministers, the Governor of the Central Bank and the leadership of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, His Highness the Emir of Kano, senior US State Department officials, and the United States Ambassador to Nigeria. Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard is an old friend and colleague, and I know she and her team in Abuja and Lagos will be wonderful advocates for stronger commercial ties between the United States and Nigeria. Since the US and Nigeria established a ministerial level Commercial Investment Dialogue (CID), the USNC has been an active participant. In a new partnership, we provided support for the January 2020 visit to Nigeria of the President of Yale University.
Thank you to the continued support of our members.
Regionally in-tune, the Council’s work actively supports Nigeria’s national strategy for economic prosperity and US commercial diplomacy. With the support of key Nigerian political and economic institutions including the Nigerian Sovereign Trust Fund, the Council helps to advance critical trade and investment initiatives by maximizing industrial free trade zones, diversifying exports, integrating agro-investments into global supply chains, and matching energy development to production needs.