Biz Interview: Paulo Daniel Ferreira: '… at this moment Africa is the big Pandora box in terms of economic growth and development'.

ABC takes a step away from African businessmen and talks to foreigners that have found a ‘business home’ in Africa. Here’s an interview with Brazilian/Portuguese, Paulo Daniel Ferreira:

ABC: Please introduce yourself to us – your company and your position there.

PDF: My name is Paulo Daniel Ferreira, and I am a Portuguese/Brazilian citizen. Thirty-five years of age, I am a businessman with experience in emerging economies like Brazil and Nigeria, as well as lengthy experience in European economies. My experience is focused on ICT sector (mainly in new and emerging economies like Brazil and Nigeria).

Protelecom Connecting Nigeria Ltd. is an ICT Premium End Solutions Equipments and Services Provider for all types of operators (TV, Internet, Mobile and Broadcast), SME and Public/Private Institutions or even individual clients that require Premium End Solutions Equipments and Services for their homes.

My position in Protelecom Connecting Nigeria Ltd. is owner, in association with Mr. Eze Ukaji, as well as Chief Operations Officer with responsibility in all African network operations.

ABC: How long have you been operating in Africa?

PDF: Our company is relatively young. We created the company in June 2013, because we found a huge gap in Premium End Solutions Equipment and Services in high growth ICT African markets.

ABC: What enticed you to do business here in the first place?  

PDF: I always had strong roots to Nigeria and Africa. I love the continent and their people. And as a European businessman, I am absolutely certain that Africa is in this moment the big Pandora box in terms of economic growth and development. This is the time to be in Africa and to grow with the continent and their amazing people.

ABC: What was your impression of the African business environment prior to your arrival here?

PDF: My impression of the African business environment is the same now that was in the past. I always found the continent a true challenge in economic, social and even political aspects. Africa has its problems like all continents have, but you feel that Africans (especially the young generation) are ready to take the lead in terms of economic and social development. I really admire the way in which the African business environment is building in a new generation of entrepreneurs.

ABC: Do you have a different impression now that you have first-hand experience?

PDF: My opinion is the same as of the past, and will be the same in the future. Africa is the future in terms of economic development and a true challenge for businessmen like myself that want to create richness, jobs and economic development in such amazing economic environments as this one.

ABC: How many African countries have you done business in?

PDF: We have the logistic and commercial HUB in Lagos. All our operations are made from there to other African ICT markets. In this way, PROTELECOM already has a very impressive dimension in markets and countries like Botswana, Senegal, Kenya, Ghana, Benin and of course, Nigeria. We are creating a strategic independent resellers structure and framework, offering unique conditions to excel Protelecom equipment and services sales in other ICT African countries. All our resellers and even Protelecom are 100% African ownership and management.

ABC: Which country proved to be the most challenging or eventful to work in?

PDF: I must confess that Nigeria is, up until now, the most challenging ICT market we are working in. It is the biggest ICT market in Africa; there are a lot of challenges that we face every day. There is a huge demand for the new broadband framework, and the mobile explosion for such a huge population is a challenge.

ABC: What should a potential investor know before coming to invest in Nigeria or Africa?

PDF: Any investor, whether institutional or private, must have thorough knowledge of the markets and economies in which it invests. Africa and Nigeria are no exception. I invested in the telecommunications area because I believe that Nigeria and all African countries have a large margin progression in the level of technological development.

Nigeria has 170 million inhabitants and therefore is a giant market, where the internet and the mobile network is a constant challenge. However, I would advise any foreign investor or entrepreneur to have a strategic partnership with local businesses or entrepreneurs, because only with them, in my opinion, we can develop economically and socially in this amazing continent of Africa.

ABC: Any lighter side to your experiences that you care to share?    

PDF: What fascinated me most is the preparation and belief of young Africans entrepreneurs and businessmen. All they are highly prepared in accordance with new technologies, using social networks seamlessly.

The technology will guarantee the development of Africa and today with my constant travelling, always keeps the company in full control with my partner Eze Ukaji, using either Skype or Viber.

Clearly there is a big gap in rural Africa in level of connectivity in terms of telecommunications. My company, Protelecom, aims to combat this lack of connectivity with equipment and services unique in the market.

ABC: How do you, if you would, predict the Nigerian market will fare in the last quarter of the year, as related to your industry?

PDF: In these last months of 2013 and in 2014, I’m sure that the ICT sector in Nigeria and across Africa will be booming.

With government policies support and new investments in the areas like internet, data and broadband, as well as in the cloud, ICT sector in Nigeria will have an increasing importance of development and even in the Nigerian GDP.

It is important that Nigerian SMEs and big public/private companies start helping each other out, and stop buying in bulk from major global manufacturers that only make millions on account of Nigeria’s economy, but do not create jobs or pay taxes in the country.

We are a 100% Nigerian company and therefore more successful.

ABC: Finally, how will Protelecom win the market for the supply of ICT equipment’s in Africa?

PDF: PROTELECOM positioned herself in the market as the last mile solutions and services for all types of mobile operators (GSM / CDMA / Fix), Internet Service Providers and Broadcast Companies, as well as big Public and Private companies (Banks/Insurance/Multinationals etc.).

We are currently focusing on strong growth at the level of Wi-Fi, Wireless and Broadband (level) data. We have the best digital wireless stations and stations in the market in terms of quality/price.

We also provide equipment to combat the lack of connectivity in Rural Nigeria and Africa, allowing us to be pioneers in this industry.

We have 4 different lines of equipment and services that allow us to say with all legitimacy that we offer to ICT sector in Nigeria and in Africa, what few can offer, ie, quality, low prices and an incredible range of equipment and services.

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