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The imperative of geopolitical advisory for companies in Nigeria

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Abdulrauf Aliyu

In today’s increasingly interconnected and unpredictable world, businesses are facing a rapidly evolving landscape of geopolitical challenges. Companies that once relied solely on market dynamics and traditional business strategies are now realizing the imperative of incorporating geopolitical expertise into their decision-making processes. The case of Nigeria, a country with its own unique geopolitical intricacies, underscores the necessity for companies to seek geopolitical advice.

Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, is a prime example of a nation where geopolitical factors significantly impact business operations. With a rich resource base and a diverse culture, it offers immense potential for investment and market expansion. However, Nigeria is also plagued by complex political issues, ethnic and religious divisions, security concerns, and economic volatility. These challenges are emblematic of the broader global trend, where political realities intertwine with business interests, making geopolitical advice essential for companies operating in the region.

As tensions rise and global uncertainties persist, businesses are recognizing the importance of being well-prepared for geopolitical disruptions. It is no longer sufficient to solely focus on the bottom line; companies must also assess and mitigate geopolitical risks. This shift is exemplified by the growing demand for specialists, including former diplomats, politicians, and civil servants, to provide invaluable geopolitical counsel at the board level.

Historically, multinational companies operating in Nigeria, and across the globe, have often relied on in-house experts or outsourced consultants for geopolitical insights. However, the landscape has evolved dramatically. The era of “peak globalization,” where market forces determined manufacturing and sales locations, has transitioned to a more politicized global marketplace. The unforeseen consequences of events like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have left companies unprepared for geopolitical fallout, making it imperative for them to adopt a more comprehensive approach to assessing and managing geopolitical risks.

In Nigeria, as in many other parts of the world, multinational corporations are increasingly recognizing the need to bolster their geopolitical expertise. Companies like Hitachi, Lazard, and other prominent names have taken steps to hire former diplomats, international relations experts, and foreign correspondents to enhance their capacity to evaluate geopolitical risks. Japan’s strained relationships with neighboring nations, including China and Russia, have led to a surge in companies like Hitachi, Suntory, and major banks hiring geopolitical experts. Moreover, Japan’s creation of the “chief geopolitical risk officer” role emphasizes the growing importance of this field.

Companies are keenly aware of the need for a more granular understanding of geopolitical risks. They are reaching out to foreign ministries and offering significant financial incentives to diplomats and experts. The fact that this approach is working underscores the gravity of the geopolitical challenges companies face today. Mitsubishi’s establishment of a global intelligence committee and smaller Japanese firms hiring outside consultants at an unprecedented rate are clear indicators of this evolving paradigm.

Geopolitical advice is not exclusive to industries traditionally associated with high risk, such as oil and gas. As companies expand their markets and supply chains, they increasingly find themselves in need of geopolitical expertise. This shift is also exemplified in the tech sector, where companies navigate the complexities of reliance on specialist chips from Taiwan and their presence in the Chinese market. They have invested in internal geopolitical teams, recognizing the necessity of managing geopolitical risks. The emergence of senior intelligence officials and diplomats in the private sector, including individuals like Sir Stephen Lovegrove and Sir Alex Younger, underscores the growing significance of geopolitical expertise in business operations.

The benefits of geopolitical advisory services extend beyond risk assessment. Consultants can play a crucial role in establishing relations with foreign governments, opening doors for companies seeking international partnerships. This is particularly relevant in a country like Nigeria, where building strong governmental relationships can be integral to business success.

In conclusion, the imperative for companies to seek geopolitical advice in a country like Nigeria is undeniable. The ever-evolving global landscape demands a proactive approach to understanding and mitigating geopolitical risks. As businesses seek to expand their operations and navigate a complex world, the inclusion of geopolitical expertise at the highest levels of decision-making is not only prudent but essential. The lessons from Nigeria, with its unique geopolitical challenges, serve as a poignant reminder that success in the modern business environment is inexorably tied to the ability to navigate the complex world of geopolitics. Companies that embrace this reality will be better positioned to thrive in an unpredictable global marketplace.

Abdulrauf Aliyu
An economist and Policy Analyst writes from
45 Ashiru Road, U/Dosa New Extension
Kaduna

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