Nigeria’s recent rating among the top 50 most reputable countries in the world by the Reputation Institute appears to confirm that the ongoing reforms embarked upon by the government are yielding fruit, writes Frederick Mordi.
Nigeria has finally made it to the list of the ‘Top 50 Most Reputable Countries in the World’. Reputation Institute (RI), a global private consulting firm based in New York and Copenhagen, which tracks reputation of places, leaders and organisations, announced this at the 17th international conference on Corporate Reputation, Brand Identity and Competitiveness held in Barcelona, Spain, noting that Nigeria has made some remarkable progress in rebuilding its perceived battered image.
A reputable country, according to the Institute’s measurement indices, is one with an advanced economy, an appealing environment and effective government. Nigeria scored high on all three parameters.
This, no doubt, is cheerful news for the Nigerian government, which has been making concerted efforts to tackle corruption and insecurity, among other social ills that have tarnished the country’s image. Nigeria’s ranking among the elite countries in the world is therefore seen as a welcome development that will further bolster the government’s fight against sleaze.
Nigeria was ranked 47th out of 50 countries with a score of 31.5%, while South Africa (33rd) and Egypt (39th); were the two other African countries that made the list.
According to the report, Canada, for the third consecutive year, has the world’s best reputation, scoring 76.6%, while Sweden (76.5%), Switzerland (76.3%), Australia (76.1%) and Norway (74.1%), which followed, are rated among the top five. Iraq (21.2%) is the last on the table.
Canada’s growing reputation as a friendly country has made it attractive to visitors from all over the world. Many Nigerians, who now see Canada as an alternative to the US, are moving to that country in droves to pursue their career and education.
Commenting on this development, managing partner of Reputation Institute, Spain and Latin America, Fernando Prado, said: “Canada’s results confirm that it is only possible to maintain a strong reputation in the long term when a country has the ability to transmit its leadership globally in each of the three key criteria: an effective government, an advanced economy and an appealing environment.”
The Reputation Institute, which was established in 1997, evaluates the reputations of 50 countries based on online interviews with 27,000 people from G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, UK and the US). Selection of the countries is based upon a combination of factors such as size of the economy, population and recent landmark economic, political, or natural events. The results of these interviews, which took place between January and March 2013, painted a picture of the reputation of emerging markets from the perspective of G8 consumers. More than 11,000 consumers from G8 countries also provided perceptions of their home country.
In essence, the Reputation Institute’s Country RepTrak report measures the trust, esteem, admiration and good feelings the public holds towards these countries, as well as perceptions of people’s quality of life and safety. The study also shows the progressive rise of reputation among emerging economies such as Nigeria.
The Reputation Institute’s executive partner, Nicolas Trad, believes there is a strong correlation between a country’s reputation and its ability to attract visitors, particularly tourists.
He said: “The perceptions held by stakeholders determine their decision to visit or live and work in a country, buy national debt, or purchase its products or services. Without a doubt, a good reputation will always mean greater national income for a country.”
Redistribution of reputation
Interestingly, economic power no longer seems to be the most important factor in gauging reputation, as none of the three largest economies in the world appears in the top 10. The US is ranked 22nd, China 44th and Japan 14th in the list of top 50 most reputable countries. Explaining this paradigm shift, Trad added: “We are witnessing the redistribution of reputation between industrialised and emerging markets, similar to what is occurring in the field of corporate brands. The success of corporate brands in emerging countries is unarguably helping to improve the reputation of their respective countries and the positioning of country brands.”
The study also found that countries with a strong reputation are better able to attract global finance at a lower cost than those with perceived weak reputations, while noting that a nation that has friendly citizens is more likely to influence people’s decision to visit that country, study there and buy its products and services. Fernando Prado adds: “The RepTrak Model identifies the key drivers that most effectively influence the behaviours of stakeholders, which allows the management of a country’s reputation to better assign resources at its disposal and realise a better return on investment.”
However, the report notes that of the five Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, only Brazil saw an improvement in its reputation. It attributed this to the legacies of Brazil’s immediate past president, Lula da Silva, as well as the current global attention on the country as it hosts the Fifa World Cup in 2014.
The report also observed that the ranking of the US continues to improve as a result of the efforts the Barack Obama administration is making to place the economy on a sound footing. The Institute believes that the insights generated through the study can help governments and tourism, as positive country data results can be used to build national pride, marketing leverage, and strengthen the reputation of local company brands. It can also be used to attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and earn the trust and support of global finance institutions.
Nigeria joins the elite club
Nigeria’s entry in the list did not come as a surprise to some analysts, who observe that the country has been making steady progress in the last few years through its economic reform programmes. For the second time in two years, Nigeria retained its position as Africa’s top destination for Foreign Direct Investment, according to the global FDI report released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in June. The UNCTAD World Investment Report 2013 subtitled ‘Global value chains: Investment and trade for development’, revealed that Nigeria recorded FDI inflows of $7.03bn in 2012, to beat other African countries such as South Africa ($4.572bn); Ghana ($3.295bn); Egypt ($2.798bn); and Angola ($6.898bn).
Nigeria’s Minister of National Planning, Shamsuddeen Usman, also confirmed that home remittances from Nigerians in the diaspora are on the increase. He put the figure at $21.89bn in 2012, saying that Nigerians living abroad are showing keen interest in the country due to their growing confidence in the government’s efforts to revamp the economy.
Usman said: “Home remittances increased from $19.2bn in 2009, to $20.61bn in 2011 and $21.89bn in 2012.” Ernst & Young’s 2012 Africa Attractiveness Survey with the broad theme ‘Building Bridges’, also highlighted how Nigeria is leading an economic revolution on the African continent.
New brand-identity campaign
Eager to exploit its growing reputation, Nigeria launched a new brand identity campaign tagged ‘Fascinating Nigeria’, in Abuja in July. At the unveiling ceremony, President Goodluck Jonathan explained that the initiative is part of efforts to develop the tourism sector and diversify the nation’s sources of revenue. Jonathan, who was represented at the occasion by the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, expressed the government’s commitment to the growth of the tourism sector, which he noted has vast untapped potential.
Jonathan said: “The cultural diversity, historic sites and slave routes, together with the large diaspora population, provides an opportunity for success when packaged with festivals and events for presentation to the international and regional tour operators.”
Explaining the rationale behind the initiative, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Edem Duke, added: “Nigeria has some of the best cultures in the world, which make it a destination of choice. There is no country in the world that doesn’t have a brand identity when it comes to tourism. Virtually every country in Africa has something that speaks to the ethos of their tourism products.
“Our brand identity is ‘Fascinating Nigeria’ because there is nowhere else in the world where this appellation best suits, whether it is in business, nature’s endowment, and investment climate, agriculture, whatever, tourism is the first letter of recommendation and our culture is a major collateral for this to activate.”
Indeed, if Nigeria’s new tourism campaign is properly harnessed, it could have a dramatic effect on the economy. For instance, a report credited to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), indicated that the tourism industry contributed $2.1 trillion in GDP and added 101m jobs to the global economy, in 2012. Experts believe that Nigeria’s listing among top 50 reputable countries is a great boost to the nation’s image. They are confident that sceptical foreign investors, who have been watching the action from afar, would soon move in to invest in the country. The study had established a direct link between a country’s reputation and its levels of FDI and tourism receipts.