By Etop Ekanem
As part of its commitment to boost trade relationships with Nigeria, the Italian Trade Agency, a governmental agency that supports the business development, partnerships and collaborations between Italian companies and their local counterparts, has launched the first E-Lab Innova in Nigeria.
The E-Lab Innovais, an educational training programme for the agri-food sector in Nigeria, which will be implemented in collaboration with the Nigerian Export Promotion Commission, NEPC, alongside other Italian partners, such as Macfrut, a leading exhibition for the agribusiness industry.
The training is aimed at increasing the technical and managerial skills of Nigeria agri-food companies in order to support their access to EU markets and foster business partnerships with Italian companies.Participants which were selected with the support of NEPC are CEOs of high-potential companies active in the production of foods such as mango, pineapple, Shea nuts and groundnuts. The programme is scheduled to hold for the duration of five weeks and will be implemented in three phases: a preliminary assessment to analyze the technical and management training requirements, company potential and profile design; 2-week webinar training classes focused on key internalization topics and a 5-days study tour in Italy, which will include Macfrut exhibition.
Giving his opening remark at the event held to flag off the training, the Italian Trade Agency Director for West Africa, Dr. Alessandro Gerbino said: “Nigeria remains a strategic point for engagement between the agency and other countries across West Africa. The E-Lab Innova holds prospects for Nigerian companies to be imparted on the knowledge and technicalities of their counterparts abroad whilst also paving the way for collaborations between Italian and Nigerian agribusinesses.
“It is a pleasure to see the collaboration between the Italian Trade Agency, ITA, and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, to develop the capacity of agribusinesses and aid their integration into the value chain of European Union markets.
“We remain committed to supporting the government’s plan to create more jobs through the agro food industry and ensure that these businesses have the right skill set to grow, sustain their operations and contribute to the growth of Nigeria’s economy.”
In her keynote address, Uduak Etokowoh, Deputy Director, International Export Offices, NEPC said: “The council constantly seeks out collaborations like this to strengthen trade relations across the world. The European Union, EU, is one of the largest markets for agribusiness. However, challenges such as logistics and inability to meet market needs pose a threat to growth opportunities. In adjusting to the new normal of virtual engagements, we are extremely delighted to partner the ITA to deliver this virtual training in support of wealth creation for the economy and to enhance seamless penetration to the EU markets for Nigerian agribusinesses.”
Thirteen agribusinesses across Nigeria took part in the first training session, including United Agro Cooperative Society Limited, Cobrend Trading and more. The programme will involve nearly 40 Nigerian companies in total.
Since the launch of Lab Innova in Africa, over 140 companies across Ghana, Angola, Mozambique, Uganda and Ethiopia have successfully gone through the training programme, with study tours and exhibitions held in Italy.