General Electric (GE), a 123-year old American Conglomerate with operations in 130 countries around the world, is gearing up to further exploit the economic potentials inherent in sub-Saharan African markets, especially Nigeria and Ethiopia. At the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, GE said it would increase its capital outlay to $10 billion over the next half-decade.
The conglomerate will target power, health and locomotive opportunities in several African countries. Nigeria, its prime target, offers a ready market with the numerous gaps in infrastructure and a new government looking to drive “change.”
“We’re bullish on Nigeria. We met with a couple of the incoming leadership and they’ve put rail right behind power. They don’t have mines as much, so you’re going to look for more general freight,” remarked Thomas Konditi, GE’s Transportation Lead for Africa, in a recent interview.
According to Konditi, Nigeria transports only 0.1 percent of its freight by rail and could boost the number of locomotives to 500, a 1900 percent increase over the current 25 engines in the country. GE plans to reinitiate talks with the new Nigerian government on a previous agreement for 200 locomotives.
Over the past decade, GE has invested massively in Nigeria, the most significant being a $1 billion service and manufacturing facility in the tourist city of Calabar, Cross River State. It has also engaged partnerships with the likes of Dangote to solve the power challenges in the country.
Jeff Immelt, GE’s CEO, has identified Africa as one of the company’s most important growth areas, with plans to invest $2 billion in the region by 2018 as well as double its workforce on the continent. With these commitments to the continent, spanning the development of facilities, supply chains and workers, the company will be suitably positioned to tap a significant share of Africa’s goodies once they materialize.