Sunday, December 12, 2010

*POSITIONING DELTA STATE, NIGERIA FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH

BRAND DELTA: With relative peace, abundant resources and promises of infrastructure development, Delta state is an investor’s haven. However, to reach the desired economic El Dorado and to place the state in a good position to realize Vision 2020 as envisioned by the Federal Government, it has to do more, after all, it is only one of the many states in the country that seek improved business activities and investment.

Like Delta State, other states are constantly on road shows, doing all they can to direct the lean foreign investment coming to Nigeria to their states. Moreover, as a consequence of militancy and youth restiveness, Delta State like most states in the Niger Delta has to do more to encourage investors. It has also become increasingly Herculean to lure local businesses to certain locations in the country, including Delta State. To this end, a lot of hard selling is required to move the state from where it is to where it should be.

Place branding creates value for a city, region or country by aligning the messages that the place already sends out, in accordance with a powerful and distinctive strategic vision; by unlocking the talent of the people who live there and stimulating investment to reinforce and fulfil this vision; and by creating new, powerful and cost-effective ways to give the place a more effective and memorable voice and enhance its reputation.

Rwanda government was able to achieve this feat for its country through relationship building with wealthy and powerful individuals from across the World. Rwanda has no oil and few minerals, but it does have one abundant asset: well placed friends. This unpaid business savvy team markets the brand called Rwanda. Just as the Asian Tigers arose as export-led middle income economies in the 20th century, Rwanda wants to become the African Gorilla in the 21st century in spite of the wars that ravaged the country.


Take another instance, Botswana. It currently has one of the most dynamic economies in all of Africa. It struck rich in diamonds in the 1970s and invested it in education, health care, housing and infrastructure. Botswana is politically stable has a well-educated and skilled workforce and corruption is low. But the world did not take notice of this small yet stable and prosperous corner of the continent until the country’s investment promotion agency BEDIA issued an international tender for the development of a Brand Strategy for the country. In the 2010 World Bank’s ranking of attractiveness of business environments, it ranked higher than Nigeria!

Singapore is yet another country that has successfully transformed its economy from third world to first world; and presently ranks as one of the fifth largest economies in the world by gross domestic product. It has the most business friendly regulation in the world and has successively led the world in ease of doing business compiled by the World Bank in the past four years

Of equal note is Shanghai, China; that it has been referred to as the most dynamic city in the world’s fastest changing nation, an exhilarating, ever-morphing metropolis that is not just living China’s dream, but is setting the pace for the rest of the world. It hosted the World’s Expo 2010 with over 70million visitors between the months of May and October.

Consider Dubai, a former fishing village that have been transformed into an important tourist destination and port and presently developing as a hub for service industries such as IT and finance, with the new Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Its economy was built on the oil industry but which now currently account for less than 6% of the emirate's revenues.

Increasingly, countries, states, cities and urban regions compete with other places for attention, investment, visitors, shoppers, talent, events, and the like. Accelerated and intensified globalisation has led to a situation where the main competition is no longer the city down the road or the town across the bay, but where competitors are places half a world away. Further, this global competition is no longer limited to the capital and big cities; it now directly affects all cities and concentrations of urban settlements.

*Contributed by Ndudi Osakwe, Principal Consultant, Infoplus. He can be reached on inquiry@ibgnigeria.com or ibgnigeria@gmail.com