It’s the final day of the Africa meets the Caribbean trade mission with a full day ahead beginning with the Transport Commissioner at the Ministry of Transport, followed by the Trinidad & Tobago Manufacturers’ Association, then United Kingdom Trade and Investment (UKTI) and lastly InvesTT.
Ministry of Transport:
Mr Rueben Cato, Transport Commissioner met with trade mission team: Mr Bola Akindele Group Managing Director, Courteville Business Solutions PLC, Mr Femi Niyi, Executive Director (Projects , Strategy and Research, Courteville Business Solutions PLC, Mr Wale Sonaike, Deputy Managing Director (AutoReg Franchise), Mr Wole Oyewo, Courteville’s Communications consultant, Mr Denis St Bernard Director of Priority First UK / CENUK, Mr Del Atah, Managing Director Zeraxis, Mr Clyde Baker, Chairman Priority Group International and director CENUK: and the CaribDirect.com team.
Also representing the ministry were Ms Susan Alsaran, System Analyst; Mr Nimrod Thomas, Assistant Transport Commissioner and Mr J Supersad, Motor Vehicle Inspector II.
Following the usual introductions and an overview by Mr Akindele, the meeting commenced with a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation on the services of Courteville Business Solutions PLC by Mr Wale Sonaike, Deputy Managing Director (AutoReg Franchise). Mr Sonaike emphasised the competence of the company by referencing their work in Nigeria and Sierra Leone as data management specialists and the satisfaction of their clients so far. He took the opportunity to show how very useful and practical the application of the company’s flagship product, AutoReg is, the side of the business he has a deep passion for.
Wale’s presentation was complemented by Mr Femi Niyi, Executive Director (Projects , Strategy and Research), Courteville Business Solutions PLC, who took time to set out the geographical perspective of the company’s present operations and scope for expansion, in Nigeria. He also touched on the sophisticated nature of the software in terms of security, allaying fears of potential breaches and hacking.
Commissioner Cato though impressed, revealed the ministry was in possession of a similar platform provided by the government of Nova Scotia. He affirmed, the system to be in it’s second phase of implementation and is working in accordance with its service mandate.
Mr Cato however mentioned that the system provided by Nova Scotia is not all encompassing but does leave opportunities that Courteville can provide specialist services. The areas mentioned are: 1. Vehicle Inspection (MOT); and 2. Number plate manufacture and supply.
To this Mr Bola Akindele Group Managing Director, Courteville Business Solutions PLC, indicated his interest to undertake the three opportunities presented as a starting point. He hastily pointed out that the the equipment for the Vehicle Inspection is not manufactured by Courteville and is not cheap. He suggested that the governing or representative body of the 60 MOT stations around the island be approached with a view to entering into a mutually agreeable arrangement that will ensure the recovery of the cost (investment) of the 60 machines, over time.
The Transport Commissioner invited Courteville to provide a formal proposal for the ministry to consider, at the earliest opportunity.
Trinidad & Tobago Manufacturers’ Association:
Ms Renee Penco, Advisor Business and Trade Policy welcomed a fraction of the trade mission which consisted of Mr Wale Sonaike, Deputy Managing Director (AutoReg Franchise), Mrs Tokunbo Olamiju Ajilore- Chiedu, CEO Compass Consulting, Mr Del Atah, Managing Director Zeraxis, Mr Clyde Baker, Chairman Priority Group International and director CENUK: and the CaribDirect.com team.
Ms Sian Hoadley, TIC Sales Coordinator and Mr Christian George, Trade Research Assistant were also in attendance. Mr Clyde Baker, Chairman Priority Group International led the introductions by spelling out the profile and scope of Priority Group International and its role in relation to the trade mission.
CEO Compass Consulting Mrs Tokunbo Chiedu gave a concise account of the company’s accomplishments and work with UKTI and other public and private Nigerian and UK companies.
Giving an outline of the critical role of Information Technology to business in general and the trade mission in particular was Mr Del Atah, Managing Director Zeraxis.
Mr Wale Sonaike, Deputy Managing Director (AutoReg Franchise), painted the backdrop of the Nigerian economy and the fact that Nigeria’s market is ideal for investment given its size (162 million population- 20 million in its smallest state Lagos) and GDP growth at a rate of over 7% per annum. He provided a summary of the many services and areas of particular specialisation, data management and administration and stressed that as professional data managers they can provide bespoke systems to solve most challenges associated with the management of complicated systems of data.
Wale invited the Association to accompany the upcoming trade mission to Nigeria later in the year for the benefit of Trinidad and Tobago companies to benefit. He recognised Trinidad and Tobago’s comparative advantage in many non-oil areas and suggested trade links be established so Nigerian businesses could learn from those success stories and the technology that makes them work.
Ms Penco notified the gathering that the Trinidad & Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) is essentially the voice or mouth piece of Trinidad & Tobago manufacturers and a credible conduit for the passage of information on policy directives to members. Mr George supported by confirming that the TTMA is also responsible for business advocacy, facilitation, trade and research.
The delegation was invited to provide evidence of Grace Kennedy Foods from Jamaica and Dalgety Teas from Guyana’s entry into the Nigerian market, for presentation to the TTMA membership to serve as a positive indication that Caribbean companies have succeeded in penetrating African markets.
They were further advised that the best method of presenting their proposition to the membership is through attendance of the upcoming Trade & Investment Convention (TIC), June 12th to 15th at the Trinidad & Tobago Hyatt Regency. The trade mission was also urged to keep the communication links open.
United Kingdom Trade and Investment (UKTI):
Following a quick lunch a section of the trade delegation paid a courtesy call on the UKTI’s Regional Office at the British High Commission, Port of Spain. The team including Mr denis St Bernard, director Priority Group International / CENUK, Mr Del Atah, Managing Director Zeraxis, Mr Clyde Baker, Chairman Priority Group International and director CENUK: and the CaribDirect.com team were greeted by Ms Bernadette V.K Bacchus, Trade & Investment Officer, UK Trade and Investment.
As per usual the trade mission members provided a short introduction of themselves and the purpose of their respective company’s being on the mission.
Ms Bacchus spent just under an hour briefing the delegation representatives on the role of the UKTI in the Caribbean and its links in the United Kingdom. She went through several documents for the delegation’s benefit including; the Overseas Business Risk, the Trinidad & Tobago Market Briefing, and Doing business in Trinidad & Tobago.
The final meeting of the day and the Africa meets the Caribbean trade mission was held at invesTT in El Socorro. This meeting was chaired by Mr Kelvin Mahabir, President invesTT.
This two hour meeting took the same format as previous and facilitated introductions of the four Nigerian officials (Mr Bola Akindele Group Managing Director, Courteville Business Solutions PLC, Mr Femi Niyi, Executive Director (Projects , Strategy and Research, Courteville Business Solutions PLC, Mr Wale Sonaike, Deputy Managing Director (AutoReg Franchise), and Mr Wole Oyewo, Courteville’s Communications consultant) and the Priority First UK contingent.
Mr Mahabir was ably assisted by Ms Heidi Noble, Manager Facilitation who arranged the meeting, Mr Shyamal Chandradatsingh, Manager Investor Sourcing and Mr Sekou Alleyne, Manager Investor Sourcing.
The whole gamut of the Courteville offering was presented and discussed thereby providing valuable insights to the invesTT head who found the details of the Nigeria market particularly interesting and proffered several areas of possible collaboration.
In recognising the potential for the implementation of Courteville’s sophisticated suite of data management software into Trinidad and Tobago, Mr Mahabir insisted Group Managing Director Bola Akindele through Priority Group International commit to continuing the dialogue.
Mr Mahabir also stressed the importance of Courteville ushering in it’s products into Trinidad & Tobago via established trade and investment fora such as the Trade & Investment Convention.
Accommodation for CaribDirect executives sponsored by:
Air travel for CaribDirect executives sponsored by: