“Have you ever been to Africa? I have been to each of its countries on various occasions for almost 20 years. I returned with many pleasant memories and important observations from our GOYA trip to Nigeria, recently visiting our production facilities in the city of Lagos. Seeing how the brands that we have established and grown over generations in different cultures and lands continue to exist and grow is always a very enjoyable experience and a source of pride for me. This week I will tell you about Nigeria.“
Let’s begin with an overview of Nigeria. With a population of 206 million, consisting predominantly of children and young people, Nigeria is located very close to Ecuador. Therefore, we can say that it is summer almost throughout the year. (1)
Oguta River, Imo State. This large lake was used as a naval base during the civil war (2).
The seasons in Nigeria are divided between relatively rainy and dry seasons. Although the oil resources in the southeast are the 8th largest oil reserves in the world, forty percent of the people in Nigeria still live in poverty. (1)
Muhammadu Buhari has been President of Nigeria since 2015. He is a retired major general. (2)
English is widely known throughout the country. In Lagos, which we visited and is the largest of Nigeria’s 3 port cities, Yoruba, the language of the country’s largest ethnic community, is spoken. (1)
The Gombe Central Mosque. (2)
In this colorful environment which shelters Muslims, Christianity, various local religions and tribes, and even white people with a population of more than 200 million; a strong atmosphere of respect for different beliefs and lifestyles exists, and they know how to live together. Think of it this way; only you and a few people next to you are different; you are white. Yet, they never mention or make you feel this. No one calls Arabs “daylight lanterns” or
‘stray black dogs “arabs” as we do. Just one little boy said to the youngest white among us, “You’re very pretty” as we strolled through the market. When we gather at a desk in the company, we discuss our affairs in a sincere discussion environment with people from several religions, tribes, and nationalities, without any ‘downsides’.
The GOYA Nigeria Team
There is no electricity infrastructure in Nigeria! Energy needs are mostly met by diesel generators. Except for a few lamps that light up at night, darkness dominates the streets.
The city of Bagari in Nigeria was the primary during the slave trade. Today, the history of those years and what the enslaved suffered are shown in museums. (2)
Nigeria, which is not very developed industrially, in many respects is dependent on imports. However, access to foreign currency is not so easy. Although foreign currency is officially sold, many individuals and institutions have to buy foreign currency sold at a higher value.
In this densely populated country with a low employment rate, finding a job is a matter of luck, with many people trying to make a living by trading. Older women who tryto provide additional income by helping adult men and women who have found permanent employment dominate the retail trade and young people are their assistants. When you talk with them, they express their opinions about the taste, package shape and the price of the products they sell; I benefited from this. There are peddlers on every corner and on the roadside. They sell a wide variety of products, from biscuits to phone cases, fruits to charging cables, in trays that they carry over their heads or put on the ground. The image of peddlers walking around with bicycle tires around their arms or necks is also very interesting.
Small motorcycles, tricycles, and minibusses of various sizes are mainly used for public transportation in the city. Some of these minibusses do not have doors, and some have those who travel by hanging behind them. As you can see, transportation is usually airy! Although 50% of the population lives in rural areas, Nigeria, which ranks 110th in terms of logistics infrastructure according to the World Bank Index, is said to be the country with the highest rate of traffic congestion in the world, but with the experience of driving in Istanbul, you can somewhat avoid this if your direction and time choices are made correctly. I already believe in a harmony that develops spontaneously in chaos, The Harmony of Chaos. Another thing I found interesting was that there were many bank branches that stood out on the streets of the city, resembling the headquarters of a medium-sized company.
Just below Lagos, there are three islands connected to the main city by bridge Victoria Island, Lagos Island, and Snake Island. The offices of global companies are usually located in this region. When you enter a supermarket in this part of the city, you encounter a completely different view. Many Ülker and McVities products are sold in these markets, which make you feel as if you have suddenly been transported to Europe. Five hundred and fifty colleagues work in our two factories located in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial center.
In these facilities where biscuits, chewing gum, and candy are produced, products bearing our global brand McVities and our Nigerian specific Haansbro brand are produced.
About 80 percent of our sales in the Nigerian market consist of products that we produce locally, and we import products produced in our other factories, especially in England, and deliver them to the market.
When employees I was meeting at the factory sang me, ‘Happy Birthday’ so enthusiastically made me happy and was a sort of pre-celebration.
This place is an important production base for the Sub-Saharan Africa region. We operate with the aim of continuous improvement by adopting the best practices, benefiting from the global synergy of pladis with our local management team, which consists of highly experienced experts in their respective fields. We continue to expand and develop our facilities with the investments we make. The investment projects that we discussed in detail during our visit will make a significant contribution to our presence in the region.
GOYA at the Open Market in Nigeria
Another important aspect is open markets which is one of the main elements of trade in Nigeria. There are 223 open markets across the country. These places where both wholesale and retail trade outlets are made offer an impressive visual experience that a visitor will never forget. Colorful products, packaging, clothes, and more.
When looking at the visuals, Africa discomforts us with its backwardness and poverty. You can only truly understand the energy in Africa or Nigeria when you travel there. The energy out there, imperceptible from outside, surrounds you; despite all the kinds of living conditions of the people, their happiness reminds you to smile, laugh, and be thankful. That is what I did. In the midst of the pandemic, war, and economic difficulties, this visit was beneficial for me. I wish everyone could get to know Africa intimately…
GOYA in the Open Market in Nigeria
We wandered around the “Mushin” open market in Lagos, which is home to around 1500 shops. Some of those who made up the dense crowd were there to shop for their own shops, some for their mobile sales trays and some for their homes.
GOYA on the Open Market in Nigeria
In these places, where people generally visit several times a week, payments are mostly made in cash.
GOYA on the Open Market in Nigeria
On the streets of the market, there are many young people waiting with wheelbarrows to provide transport services.
In short, I witnessed firsthand the harmony of the bustling chaos we see throughout Africa in Nigeria as well. It was an extreme pleasure to meet with our colleagues and managers at our facilities. Now it’s time for our Nigerian team to visit us in Turkey, and they will be here next week. J
Note: This article, which is open source, can be quoted by mentioning the author. Copyright is not required.
2- Discover Nigeria Celebrating the People, Places and Culture of Nigeria at 60. The photos in the book were taken by Bayo Omoboriowo. His Instagram profile link is also given: https://instagram.com/bayoomoboriowo