Emmanuel Excel Ogbeide is an internationally renowned and award winning speaker, visionary entrepreneur, social worker, preacher and nation builder. He is the founder and CEO of Business Builders Limited, a leading international training, consulting, research and information based firm registered in the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria since 2007. He is a career, business and educational empowerment advocate with expertise in capacity building programmes and vast in training content development and delivery.
He is a well groomed Social Worker of the University of Benin, Benin City and a holder of the Executive Masters in Project Management from British School of Project Management. He holds an Advanced Diploma in Business Support Skills from the City and Guilds of London Institute and an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Administration from the Cambridge Theological Seminary in the United Kingdom. He is the founding President of Nigerian-Latvia Business Association amongst others.
In this interview with Victor Gotevbe, he tells us why Nigerians should visit Latvia with it’s unparalleled untouched natural landscape, lively cities and rich culture and the many trade opportunities that Nigerians can tap into. He emphasized on the urgent need for both the Nigerian Government and Latvian Government to establish diplomatic ties for mutual benefits. Excerpts:
Given that Nigeria has not established any diplomatic ties with Latvia, how have you been ableto develop bilateral relations between Nigeria and Latvia as President of Nigeria- Latvia Business Association (NLBA)?
It is important I first talk about Latvia. Latvia is a country on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Estonia known for its strong national identity, diverse culture, modern cities and landscapes ranging from wide beaches to dense, sprawling forests. Latvia’s capital is Riga, home to museums and churches, notable wooden and art nouveau architecture, a vast Central Market and a medieval Old Town. It is a member state of the Schengen Area and a member of the European Union. Latvia is a modern business tourism destination, offering high-level services for attractive prices. In the field of conference tourism, Latvia is a fair competitor to Scandinavian countries in terms of quality, while offering lower prices.
We have been able to establish bilateral relations with the Latvian Government and the entire business community through our various trade, investment and tourism promotion activities. Our efforts and interest in promoting, protecting, strengthening and facilitating economic ties between the Nigerian community and Latvia counterparts earned us the attention and support of the Latvian Government.
However, there are challenges emanating from the fact that Nigeria does not have an Embassy in Latvia yet and Latvia does not have an embassy in Nigeria. We therefore, advise that both countries should appoint Honorary Consuls to bridge this gap as there are several opportunities that both countries can harness. The good news is that Latvia already has a Nigeria candidate they are considering for the appointment of the Honorary Consul and we will reveal more in due course.
Last November (2015) you led a delegation to Latvia in partnership with Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA). So what makes this mission unique?
Yes, I led a trade delegation to Latvia; it was the first of its kind. It was a specialized trade mission in the sense that it was focused on the furniture industry, seeing that this is one of the priority sector the Latvian Government seeks to promote. The delegates comprised of importers, dealers and key players in the furniture industry here in Nigeria .We enjoyed warm reception and full support from the Government of Latvia, LIAA and we met with the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and also key players in the Furniture industry in Latvia.
Amongst others, it was a successful trade mission which lasted for six days. This visit also served as a medium of interface between the Nigerian delegates and the Latvian business people looking for partnerships and opportunities. Other benefits derived from it include networking, match making, knowledge and technology transfer, especially the exposure gained in the international furniture industry.
Can you share more details on the next mission scheduled for April, 2016.?
This shall be an annual event organized by the NLBA with the support from the Latvian Government in a bid to promoting bilateral ties between the two countries. It will bring together journalists, media professionals, business people and investors in Nigeria and Latvia to meet and explore opportunities, cooperate and cross fertilize ideas for mutual benefits. During this meeting, journalists from Nigeria and Latvia will ensure that information, business related news and opportunities are featured on their media platforms. For an example Nigerian news will be featured in Latvia media and vice versa. It will also be an opportunity for match making and collaboration of business people and investors.
Nigeria seems to have the population that the Latvian government and people would require to expand their business frontiers. What concrete benefits does it hold for Nigerians?
Trade has to be balanced; it has to be a mutually beneficial business relationship between Nigeria and Latvia .Although Nigeria has a population of almost 200million while Latvia has just 2 million people, Nigeria has a lot to gain from Latvia in the areas of technology transfer, Information Technology, Health Care, Green Technology, Life Sciences, Agriculture/Food Processing, Engineering, Furniture/Finishing, Logistics, Tourism, Sports and Education which are the core competencies of Latvia and this will boost development in the Nigerian non-oil sector. Latvia has something for everyone.
Where do Nigerians access Latvian visas?
Like I said earlier, Latvia does not have an Embassy in Nigeria but the Embassy of Sweden in Abuja is currently handling visa and consular issues on behalf of the Latvian Government.
What other activities do you have for the rest of 2016?
It’s hard to say when the next trade mission will be .We are still in the business of international Trade promotion in Nigeria and Latvia but most of our programs are organized upon request and we are open for collaboration from other trade organizations, professional bodies, government agencies, educational institutions and cooperate organization .We also organize private business meetings for individuals and small groups on regular basis as the need arises. We will be hosting a delegation of Latvian business people and investors to Nigeria later in the year
By Victor Gotevbe