Chief Executive Officer, DHL Express, Sub-Saharan Africa, Hennie Heymans has expressed confidence in the Nigerian market describing it as unique.
Speaking during a Meet and Greet with selected journalists at the DHL Express Lekki Facility, in Lagos State, Heymans said that Sub-Saharan Africa, especially Nigeria was a critical part of the DHL Express network, not just in Africa but also globally.
“From a regional office point of view, Nigeria is an important market for us and we will continue to invest in this market”, he said.
DHL Express, Heymans revealed further, has invested heavily in the facilities such as the acquisition of two model boats for navigation, promising that the company will continue with the investment.
He noted, however, the company’s focus right now was to grow SMEs, adding, “We see growth in the SME market here and we believe it’s our role and part of our purpose, to make sure that we help and stimulate that growth responsibly.”
In his assessment of the SME sector in Nigeria, Heymans said, “From a few macro-observations, I can see the progress in the infrastructure which has eased traffic in a city like Lagos. When compared to 2019, there is a major improvement.”
He said further that SMEs play an incredibly critical role in the Nigerian economy, adding that they make up about 48% of Nigeria’s GDP.
“They make up about 96% of businesses and create about 84% of job opportunities in the local market.
“We are adamant that we will see a further significance and focus as the population in Nigeria grows because it’s become a real source of economic growth, inclusion, and job employment. If you extrapolate that statistic across Sub-Saharan Africa, there are about 44 million SMEs across this continent.
“Now we know that we suffer a little bit from data poverty. So, you know that 44 million could be closer to 47 or 48 million. So SMEs are an incredibly important source of economic growth, and providing jobs on this continent”, Heymans said.
He noted that DHL company is looking to do several things in supporting SMEs in Nigeria.
“Firstly, we help bring the world to SMEs in Nigeria and take the SMEs from Nigeria to the world. And we do that through our extensive network, cross border network and there are a couple of ways to interpret the concept of networks. The first one is bringing international trade in and taking international trade out.
“Whatever gets produced by the SMEs to take that cross border with Africa, or internationally. We are particularly proud of the fact that we connect the world through our aviation network. Our aviation hub was based in Lagos, but they also have a network which is an extensive, independent retail outlet network that gives accessibility to the SMEs.”
Observing that one of the challenges that the SMEs face not just necessarily in Nigeria, but around the world, was the lack of skills, training, and understanding of international trade, the DHL boss said the company has put together some programmes like Power Up your Potential which is a training programme that is specifically designed to educate SMEs about the business and about taking their businesses across borders.
“We also have programmes such as GO Trade which draws on the Group’s expertise in trade and logistics to enable developing countries and their SMEs access the global market, ”he noted.