Emerging middle class is Nigeria’s asset — Canon CEO

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he President and Chief Executive Officer, Canon Europe, Middle East & Africa, Yuichi Ishizuka, speaks about Nigeria’s business environment, economic growth, latest trends in the imaging technology industry, among other issues in this interview with FEMI MAKINDE

How would you assess Nigeria as a major investment destination?

Africa’s main asset is its young and dynamic population; by 2050, more than four out of 10 young people under 20 years of age in the world will be from Africa. By investing in the continent’s potential, investors including us want to be a supportive partner of transformational growth in African countries.

Do you think the Nigerian imaging technology business market is growing well?

Nigeria is one of our biggest markets with huge potential, influenced by its high population, encouraging trade conditions and the emergence of a middle class in the country.

This is why since we established ourselves in Nigeria, we have been investing in developing our business and channels in the market. Today, our channel stocks keep increasing as we continue to meet customer demand. This is why we have partnered three local service centres across three major cities in Nigeria to strengthen our in-country presence and drive customer satisfaction.

Africa requires a lot more human capacity development in the area of technology. What are your  contributions towards human capacity development in the continent?

As a global imaging business, we have a responsibility to empower a new generation – helping them to develop their skills, firing their passion for imaging and inspiring them through the power of visual storytelling. Our aim is to equip youth with the skills, tools and platforms they need to share their stories with the world and create new opportunities both for themselves and others in their communities.

Through the Miraisha programme, we trained many students in Nigeria on visual storytelling, in collaboration with the School of Art Nigeria. Also, in partnership with LagosPhoto, we offered capacity building workshops for aspiring photographers, seeing 40 participants pass through the training and support the next steps on their personal paths and journeys within visual storytelling.

We have also set up a partnership with Yaba College of Technology which has already empowered 80 students. The main goal of this partnership is to support them with training that can facilitate their professional integration into the industry. Students in the programme gain access to professional printing machines and have an opportunity to interact with our experts.

As a responsible brand that wants to develop in Nigeria, we are committed to supporting the education of young people and facilitating their professional integration.

As a CEO, what comes to your mind when you think, visit and do business in Nigeria?

Nigeria stands out particularly in the film industry, producing 1500 and 2000 films per year; making it the second largest market in the world just behind Hollywood. Encouraged by this outlook and keen to participate in the production of creative projects, we recently partnered a film director, Kunle Afolayan, for his film Mokalik by providing technical support and loaning kit such as the Canon EOS C300 Mark camera.

Within the growing market for content-on-demand, Nigerian films are enjoying a flourishing and significant popularity, both on the African continent and globally. Thanks to this sector, the whole world can experience the country in an authentic way though films.

We also plan to expand other key verticals like the government, financial and oil & gas sectors. In the next two years, we aim to enhance our presence in the office automation industry by promoting both our range of volume and value copiers. As experts in imaging we are investing in the future and continuing to challenge industry conventions by bringing to market new products, technologies and digital services that offer our Nigeria consumers the best imaging experiences.

What are the challenges of providing imaging technologies products and services in Nigeria?

I see a lot of opportunities for us in Nigeria. With the help of our local team, we have been able to open service centres in the market and improve channel penetration and brand awareness.

We have also signed the collaboration between CCNA and KAS, the leading Nigerian digital printing company. This collaboration, based on commitment, multi-sector knowledge, secure data management and high value-added solutions that guarantee sustainable innovation, allows them to combine their mutual know-how to provide KAS Prints customers with unique and unmatched services.

What does the nearest and farthest future hold for your company in Nigeria?

We will continue to invest in Nigeria and intend to expand our reach in all markets, and all channels. With this in mind, we are aiming for market leadership across most of our product ranges in the next three years. We are exploring many options as to how we can best improve our presence in Nigeria.

What is the sales performance of your company in Nigeria?

Our business has grown in Nigeria since 2016 thanks to a team effort to develop the business and channels in the market to become closer to our customers and understand their needs.

Are there any major initiatives of Canon that is aimed at developing printing technology in Nigeria and Africa as a whole?

Firstly, we want to give professionals the necessary tools to enable them to carry out all printing work in country. The current challenges are often due to a lack of machines and high-performance resources, leading to printing jobs being carried out abroad. We therefore want to develop the printing industry to help retain business in Nigeria, particularly because the country has great growth opportunities due to strong corporate demand.

As you may know, we also support the film industry through our professional line of imaging products. We collaborated with renowned Nigerian film producers who have filmed world class productions using Canon Cinema lenses and professional film cameras. Our objective is to support Nollywood productions in cementing their position in the global film market. We aim to achieve this notable milestone simply by offering our technical knowledge and expertise to the creative market.

In addition, we are committed to supporting young people in their learning journey. The Miraisha programme upskills young adults in Africa by offering regular training sessions, which improves their professional skills and prepares them for entry into the job market.

How do you drive the technology and philosophy of your company?

We are constantly changing the imaging world for the greater good and pushing the bounds of what is possible. Throughout our 80-year history, we have pushed an enterprising spirit through the company and our employees. And this dedication has led us to deliver high-quality products to our customers time and time again.

We define ourselves as a technology company. That requires us to continually innovate and adapt to current and anticipated market needs. R&D is the lifeblood of Canon and every year we invest more than eight per cent of our sales into developing new products. We are also the only company to achieve a top 5 ranking in the US patents ranking for 33 years in a row.

Source: Punch News

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