Ambassador Jens-Petter Kjemprud
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do” – this quote by C.G. Jung, often exemplify those people in service, like Ambassador Kjemprud, who are worthy of admiration.
Ambassador Kjemprud has served in various capacities and done an exceptional job in flying the Norwegian flag abroad. He has previously been Norway’s Ambassador to Iran, Ethiopia, the Sudan, and currently Nigeria. A recipient of the NHO Ambassador prize (2017), since he began his service in Nigeria, Ambassador Kjemprud has shown an unwavering commitment to fostering a stronger relationship between Norway and Nigeria.
Ambassador Kjemprud was in attendance at the “Nigeria in Focus” Roadshow that sought to bridge the business, trade, investment and perceptional gap between Nigeria and Norway. He is also steadfast in encouraging the need for more Norwegian businesses in Nigeria, as well as bilateral trade, with a growing net export from Nigeria to Norway.
Given his experience and commitment to promoting cooperation between Norway and Nigeria, I asked for an opportunity to speak with him to learn more about his vision for both countries, which he graciously obliged.
Read our conversation below.
Chisom: What is your opinion of the business readiness and environment in Nigeria?
Ambassador Kjemprud: I believe that a lot of good work is being done and this needs to continue to mitigate corruption in Nigeria. The current Nigerian administration has made very ambitious plans to facilitate the ease of doing business. Processes have been put in place to clarify relevant procedures and encourage foreign trade and investment. In my view, the right policies and incentives have been set in motion. What is needed now, to positively move things along for the benefit of Nigeria is effective and accountable implementation.
Chisom: There are many economic sectors in Nigeria that needs improvement. In which areas or sectors does Nigeria need to focus on to facilitate more trade and investment with Norway?
Ambassador Kjemprud: I believe that there is a need to focus on building infrastructure. There is also a need to ensure safe delivery of electricity. For instance, it is not possible to successfully integrate a manufacturing sector without a reliable power supply. There is a need to limit the dependence on diesel for manufacturing, as it is not sustainable.
Chisom: What would you like to achieve and/or see happen during your time in Nigeria?
Ambassador Kjemprud: I would like to see Statoil have a significant footing in Nigeria. It would be great for Statoil to continue to win and participate in multi-billion dollar investments, which will hopefully create jobs and opportunities both for Nigerians and Norwegians.
I believe that Norwegian companies can and will thrive in Nigeria and I would like to see a constant growth of Norwegian businesses in Nigeria. There are vast gaps that Norwegian companies in the energy, agriculture, aquaculture, and oil engineering sectors (among others) can fill in Nigeria.
I would like to see the growth of Norwegian businesses and investments in Nigeria and an influx of Norwegian small and medium sized businesses in Nigeria as well. There is a need for Norwegian startups to explore the Nigerian space, find local partners, and grow. The opportunities in Nigeria are not limited to only large Norwegian companies.
In Nigeria, I would like to see and participate in humanitarian endeavors. It is Norway’s wish to see the end of the enduring conflict in the North. We would also like to see a significant improvement in the educational sector, not only in traditional academic education but also in vocational training.
The Nigerian oil and gas sector also needs to continue to evolve and grow. There is a need for Nigeria to efficiently produce its own oil. In my view, there are boundless opportunities for Norway and Nigeria to cooperate. The only thing that prevents cooperation is imagination and the 24-hour limit in each day.
Chisom: What is the current level of trade between Nigeria and Norway?
Where trade with Nigeria is concerned, there is a need to reduce the unfair trade balance between Nigeria and Norway, as most of the trade is one directional and in favor of Norway. Resultantly, there is a need to promote bi-lateral trade, with more net exports from Nigeria to Norway.
Chisom: How do you think that the bilateral trade between Nigeria and Norway can improve – what needs to be done to promote Nigerian exports to Norwegian markets?
Ambassador Kjemprud: Well, there are areas such as in agricultural produce (i.e Mango), where Nigeria can serve as a net exporter Norway. To develop this segment, there is a need to strategically and cohesively position the value chain. The process and life cycle of exporting goods to Norway needs to be meticulously planned and there is a need to ensure a steady local supply chain. This will ensure success in exporting to Norway. The beauty in this is that successfully entering the Norwegian market also creates access to other Nordic countries. The sky is basically the limit.
Chisom: Do you think the Norwegian market is ready for Nigerian products?
Ambassador Kjemprud: Of course! It comes down to branding. It is important to note that there is a need to brand products as “made in Nigeria,” and the Norwegian embassy in Nigeria is always willing to help.
Ambassador Jens-Petter Kjemprud was interviewed by Chisom Udeze, CEO of Mettle Consult.