About Public Offering

Contact us:

Subscribe to Public Offering Public Offering RSS Feed


January 30, 2008

Reimagining Nigeria

Ryan Petersen ’08
Print this post

Two weeks ago, I blogged about the mounting combination of anxiety and excitement leading up to my trip to Nigeria. Outside of the exceptional opportunities for investors in the country’s capital markets — which did little to soothe my fears as a traveler — I’d heard few reassuring stories about Lagos. Meanwhile, my imagination went to work on the news reports, rumors and exaggerated tourist tales I had heard, conjuring up images of an urban center descended into anarchy.

I should have known better!

Jindra Zitek ’08 and I arrived at the Lagos airport expecting to be harassed by an unruly mob of aggressive taxi drivers, con artists or worse. We found instead only a few families waiting for their loved ones. The first person to approach us was our smiling classmate, Gbolade Arinoso ’08, wearing his finest traditional Nigerian clothes. From the moment we exited the airport, we knew we’d have to throw all preconceived notions about Lagos out the window.

In fact, throughout our week in the city, we were struck by how poorly we’d misimagined the place. At no point did we feel threatened in any way. Rather, we were welcomed warmly by everyone we met, from security guards and restaurant workers to private equity investors and government officials.

In the end, it was this inviting stance toward foreigners that made our project such a success. Our goal was to write a world-class business school case study about Computer Warehouse Group, West Africa’s leading IT systems integrator. As soon as we explained our project, we found that the local business community was quick to rally around us. Even normally secretive private equity firms were willing to openly discuss their valuations of the company!

Ironically, it was the very hospitality that made our trip so exhausting: the 9–5 work days were simply too short to speak with all the people who so generously offered their time. We frequently found ourselves meeting deep into the evenings, exploring the intricacies of valuing the IT services company in the Nigerian context. We learned more than we ever imagined — about the firm, the country and, most of all, about the tricks our imagination can play on us when we operate on incomplete information!

Photo credit: The New Black Magazine

Comments

by Osifo Akhuemonkhan | January 30, 2008 at 5:44 PM

Good to know your previous perceptions of Lagos have been changed. I am also pleased that you have pointed out in your article, the willingness of executives in Nigeria to share information with you and your colleagues. This is a testament of the level of dedication Nigerians are showing to economic development. Our country is truly open for business and I hope the success of your project encourages other business schools and investors to take a closer, harder look at opportunities in Nigeria.

by Adaezi Ezinwo | January 31, 2008 at 10:03 AM

You did what any traveler to a foreign place would do, and that is to seek information about your destination. Your experience is a testimony that shows us how important it is to keep an open mind. I think that's one the greatest values one can have when it comes to global economic innovation.

by Andrew Bonfiglio | February 03, 2008 at 3:07 PM

That is a great story and I am glad that you had a positive experience in Nigeria. I recently committed to attend a mission trip in Malawi and certainly have a similar feeling of anxiety and excitement. You have inspired me to do my best to eliminate any assumptions and enjoy the country and people with an open mind. If you have any other advice, please share! Also, I read an article in National Geographic about pollution and the significant heath risks associated with the improper disposal of excess computer equipment that ends up in Africa. Did that subject ever arise during your time in Nigeria?

by Bimbo | February 04, 2008 at 1:53 PM

You should certainly come back Ryan. Come to Lagos when you have a proper holiday and i'll treat you to all the fun that even Gbolade does not know about. I work as an Investment analyst so we can talk business as a sort of side-dish.

by Ladipo Lawani | February 08, 2008 at 10:50 PM

I appreciate you taking out the time to point out that your experience in Nigeria dispelled your false perception of the country. This would help correct the mostly false image of Nigeria which the international media likes to potray.I feel most africans are really hospitable people, like you experieced in Nigeria. Im glad to hear you had a good time.

by Ryan Petersen | February 17, 2008 at 11:28 PM

Thank you all for your kind words. Bimbo, I look forward to coming back to Lagos so you can show me a good time. Gbolade took us to some cool spots though, including the New African Shrine, so it may be hard to top that...

by bade folawiyo | April 04, 2008 at 11:59 PM

its good to know that you have visited the Nigeroa and come back with good reviews. Nigeria is not a backward country as it is portrayed on t.v. The whole of *Africa" as it is commonly generalised is not starving and desolate! some people are actually well educated and making major changes in the world

by Sandra Oguike | January 20, 2009 at 8:01 AM

Dear Ryan, I thank you immensely for your testimony. The image portrayed by the media about our dear county hasn't been the best. This is definitely encouraging and I can't thank you enough for the title..Reimaging Nigeria!!! Way to go!!!. Maybe you should try visit Abuja on your next trip.

This post is closed to new comments.