Africa is continent of tremendous opportunities, says Jim Ovia

The founder of Zenith Bank Plc, Jim Ovia has expressed optimism about the boundless business opportunities in the African continent. Mr. Ovia who said this during an interview with CNN’s Marketplace Africa believes the potential for investors in Africa was limitless.

“Africa is a continent of tremendous opportunities – a continent of raw materials and a continent of very hardworking people. We have a very able workforce. The level of education is also rising so that is why Africa offers tremendous opportunities for many foreign investors,” he said.

Mr. Ovia further told the CNN how Nigerian companies had gone on to be international successes.

“In 2004, there were no Nigerian companies listed in the London Stock Exchange – none. But today, we have quite a few of them, including two Nigerian banks and one oil and gas company. I don’t know a better way to describe these activities and this recognition of hardworking people in Africa, particularly Nigeria and South Africa, but to describe it as ‘Africa Rise and Shine’,” he explained.

For people looking to invest in Africa, he recommended many different potentially profitable industries across the continent.

“Banking is a great investment to make in Nigeria. Agriculture is also great. Refinery is good. Manufacturing is even the best and they all make Africa. If you take for example Nigeria, we know so well it’s almost a virgin land waiting for tremendous opportunities to pour in. It’s a land of infinite possibilities,” he explained.

For those who are worried about investing in Africa, Mr. Ovia stated his belief that nerves are a normal thing to experience.

“They have to show good returns to their principles back home, so they need to be worried. If you say you are not worried and you are doing business, it doesn’t sound right – you just have to be worried… I think sometimes you lose money, sometimes you make money. But, as long as over a certain period of time you’re making money, then it’s fine,” he said.

On advice to future startups and entrepreneurs, he opined they should persist in any path they have chosen.

“The young entrepreneurs and startup companies shouldn’t be too much in a hurry. They should be very persistent and should remain focused. They should all remain honest and committed to what they believe in,” he advised.


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