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Over the last two decades, Africa’s emerging markets, with its over 1.5 billion people, have continuously gained noticeable attention from investors across the globe, a clear indication that the world cannot ignore the commercial importance of the growing economy the same Sujimoto has chosen not to disregard the continent’s vast opportunities.
It was in view of these ambitious economic ties that I was specially invited to the South African-Saudi Arabia Business Council, geared towards exploring the potential of establishing a robust bilateral relationship that will serve as a catalyst for the future of Africa’s next economy amidst the current inflation outlook.
In charting a sustainable course for Nigeria’s luxury real estate sector and, more importantly, for all entrepreneurs across Africa, the business forum, which was more than a meeting but also an investment opportunity, served as an important axe for the future of Sujimoto in South Africa and in Saudi Arabia.
Upon arrival in the beautiful city of Johannesburg in preparation for the 3-day-long business forum, I was received by the Saudi Arabia business attaché in South Africa under the wonderful reception of the vice chairman, Dr. Hisham Al Amoudi, at the airport.The next day, we dashed out to the office of the Saudi Arabian business attaché, where we had a breakfast meeting in the company of my very good friend and business leader Ivie Igbinedion alongside Lulu, where we discussed various opportunities beaconing on the horizon for Sujimoto beyond the sphere of luxury real estate.
As part of the delegation, we toured the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, which is the largest stock exchange in Africa and the 13th largest in the world. It boasts a market cap of over 1.36 trillion USD and has approximately 400 companies listed on its Main Board and the AltX Board. The exchange is currently utilized by clients and investors from more than 40 countries.
As a Nigerian, I was eager to know how the Johannesburg stock exchange is collaborating with its Nigerian counterpart and how we are encouraging South African investors to invest in Nigeria, especially with the ever-changing market dynamics that have had a significant impact on the naira.
Our visit to JSE was just one of several other steps we’ve taken to open the doors for a more collaborative opportunity, particularly with the coming into force of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, which is aimed at democratising the business environment to attract more domestic and foreign direct investment.
In line with our vision at Sujimoto, we have introduced in this regard a number of projects that cut across our five (5) core pillars and areas of expertise, which include Manufacturing, Agriculture, Hospitality, Fintech and Real Estate. A strategic framework and the most important indices in the measurement of development and the biggest drivers of employment in almost all economies.
During our visit to the renowned Aspen Global Pharmaceutical Company as part of the delegation, we enjoyed a delicious culinary steak after a tour of the company, which is known for its relevant portfolio of post-patent medicines and extensive supply chain that serves both hospital and consumer markets.
The South African-Saudi Arabia Business Meeting, which attracted the attendance of various industry experts and leaders from food and beverage to pharmaceuticals and the financial market, signals a renewed commitment to strengthening economic ties between Africa and the Gulf region of Saudi Arabia through Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s ambitious economic and social development plan, Vision 2030.
It is often said that a man with a great vision without any allowance for expansion is gradually heading towards corporate slavery. Within the last few years, I have learned that the responsibility of success is more difficult to manage than the irresponsibility of failure, but I will choose the labour of success over the burden of mediocrity any day! This is one of the reasons why I have decided to diversify the Sujimoto brand and expand my vision beyond the shores of Nigeria this year.
In seeking strategic and mutually beneficial investment opportunities across various sectors, we shall bring global investors to Nigeria to join our entrepreneurial ambition. This visit also allowed me to share our grand vision with the Director of Digital at the NEOM project, as he is thrilled to hear of our plans to democratise the business landscape, particularly in the fintech industry.
We are steering the plan to construct the tallest and most luxurious Twin Tower in Africa, as well as the unveiling of Sujimoto’s Motopay app, the all-in-one game-changer designed to onboard over 50 million users in Nigeria, with an expansion plan to over 27 African countries. Motopay is set to completely transform how people pay for and receive items using a future-forward scan-to-pay feature, connecting friends and families, and opening up the doors to shopping for affordable products like never before.
“While many people are thinking about Nigeria’s 200 million customers, we are thinking about how we can create a meaningful impact on 1.5 billion Africans”. – Dr. Olasijibomi Ogundele.
During my delegation to Johannesburg, a city littered with prominent restaurants you can see from different parts of the world, we visited the Marble restaurant, which is today one of the best restaurants in Rosebank. We also explored opportunities in bringing affordable beef into Nigeria.
This trip to South Africa has further opened my eyes, got me curious, and made me ask salient questions on how we can drive commerce to improve food security in Africa’s most populous black nation. How can we make our country better by providing 24-hour electricity? How can we close the infrastructure and housing deficit gap? How can we, as Sujimoto, build not only the tallest building in Nigeria but also the tallest in Africa?
How can we support the Nigerian food and agriculture sectors and make them better? How can we expose them to these opportunities? All these and more are crucial to our vision and core objective for Sujimoto’s technology-forward plan, which is beyond luxury real estate.
Following the luscious grand dinner that was put together as part of the activities for the meeting, we also paid a courtesy visit to the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC), where we discussed various partnership opportunities and our plan, which also covers extending our footprint to South Africa, the Middle East, as well as other regions of Africa.
This bilateral meeting and epoch-making event has further challenged our ambition and quadrupled our investment appetite, as we currently see opportunities not only in Nigeria but also in Saudi Arabia, which is the largest economy in the Middle East.
With major ongoing projects such as the NEOM project, we at Sujimoto are looking at extending our expertise to the Gulf region, democratising hospitality, cement manufacturing, food and beverages, and fintech, while promoting agro-tourism and creating more export opportunities.
There is no doubt that we have a lot that we can learn from partnering with Saudi Arabia and South Africa, starting with their successful efforts to diversify an economy that has historically relied almost exclusively on oil and gas. With a focus on mutual growth and strategic investment, we stand to benefit from exploring new opportunities in trade and investment.
I knew my trip to South Africa wouldn’t have been complete without paying a visit to the industrious aristocrat and elder stateman from Okada town in Edo State, Chief Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion. It was around 5 p.m. as we drove to the gigantic mansion of the Esama of the Benin Kingdom, which was so big it took us 7 minutes to drive from the gate to the main house.
I was most humbled to be in the presence of an astute businessman who has lived a healthy life worthy of emulation. I prostrated to him, and he asked if I was Yoruba. On the mention of Sujimoto and Osun State, where I hail from, he said, “Oh, you are Sujimoto; the man building the tall-tall buildings in Banana Island, how are you my son?
”.Hardly would the history of Nigeria’s aviation and education sectors be written without chapters on the great contributions of Esama of the Benin Kingdom. It is amazing how a man of about 90 has lived a full-filled life of entrepreneurship, from pioneering the first private university to creating an everlasting humanitarian impact in our society.
The kind of hospitality and economic infrastructure I experienced in South Africa rekindled my hope for Africa. I believe strongly that when African leaders provide the necessary infrastructure to enable businesses, entrepreneurs will be able to harness the innumerable opportunities and resources that surround them and convert all our calamities into opportunities.
People go to S.A. for different reasons; some go there to look at the beaches, but I went there in search of opportunities in doing business. I saw an opportunity in the new Sandton area, where we shall be erecting the iconic 66-story Sujimoto Tower, the tallest building in Africa! What an audacious project it will be! We shall call it the Sujimoto Tower Sandton (STS). A 4-in-1 project that converges retail malls, offices of over 30,000 sqm, 229 suite hotels, and over 217 luxury apartments.
“It is our hope that the upcoming historic fora will lay the foundation for a new era of partnership between Sujimoto, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Africa, especially with the coming into force of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, a democratised business ground that presents enormous opportunities to every entrepreneur across all 54 countries of Africa.
”Dr. Sijibomi Ogundele is the Group Managing Director of Sujimoto Group, the Czar of Luxury Real Estate Development, and the mastermind developer behind the renowned Giuliano. Our other audacious projects, such as the most sophisticated building in Banana Island, LucreziaBySujimoto, the grandiose Sujimoto Twin Tower, the tallest twin towers in Africa; the regal Queen Amina by Sujimoto, a monument to royal affluence; the magnificent high-rise LeonardoBySujimoto; the Sujimoto Farm; an advanced farm estate system that incorporates housing, farm hospitals, hotels, and markets within an ecosystem, creating opportunities for agro-tourism and affordable housing., among other projects that have etched an indelible imprint on Nigeria’s skylines, a testament to Sujimoto’s unrivalled mastery of modern-day engineering.
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