Nigeria, India unveil forum to boost trade, investments


Nigeria and India have inaugurated the Nigeria and India Business Council (NIBC) to serve as a forum for expansion of trade and investments between the two countries in new areas of interest such as Fintech, artificial intelligence, renewable energy and technology, among others.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who unveiled the platform in Abuja on Wednesday, said the NIBC would result in mutually beneficial economic exchanges for both countries in the preferred sectors.

Speaking on the theme: Expanding Trade And Investment Opportunities Between Nigeria And India, Osinbajo, who was represented by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, said both countries have a dynamic business environment and potential, which provide opportunities for trade and investments in addition to their common aspiration for promoting economic growth and improving the welfare and material condition of the people.

“Nigeria and India have shared interest to successfully tackle the challenges facing the global public health emergencies like the COVID -19 pandemic and the fallout of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

“There are many areas in which both countries can build the already active bilateral relationship including education, creative industry, digital economy, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, manufacturing, oil and gas and I am certain that such ties will continue to blossom.

“Indeed, I expect that the NIBC will be an active vehicle to further strengthen and consolidate our relationship and also serve as a platform to coordinate and facilitate investment and business interactions,” he said.

Noting that both countries were already collaborating on defence to curb insecurity in Nigeria, Osinbajo, however, canvassed more collaboration in the areas of entrepreneurship and vocational training, stressing that India has been able to use entrepreneurship to reduce its unemployment level to about 70 per cent, while Nigeria’s unemployment level is quite high at about 35 per cent.

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“Similarly through entrepreneurship, India has boosted its export of goods and services to about $546 billion, while that of Nigeria is only at $70 billion. There is also the need for emphasis on skills acquisition and capacity building, which puts large numbers of young people to work, as well as boost the nation’s capacity innovation, technology and contributing to the nation’s economic growth,” he added.

Speaking, the visiting India Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri Vmurakedharan, said Nigeria had always been a preferred investment destination for Indian businesses, maintaining that there were over 135 Indian companies estimated to have invested over $20 billion in the country.

“It is also a matter of pride that companies owned by Indians or persons of Indian origin are reputed to be the second largest providers of employment in Nigeria. The country has a large talented and growing youth population, abundant natural resources, democratic and business friendly government, while the strong cultural bonds between our people have fuelled rising economic engagement between both countries.

“But there is still great potential to enhance our economic cooperation and with the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, both countries must look to vigorously make up for lost opportunities in the last two years,” he said.

On the trade front, the minister said Nigeria has been India’s largest trade partner in Africa and a valuable energy partner, stressing that bilateral trade between both countries in 2021 and 2022 rose substantially to about $14.95 billion.

Responding, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, said both countries would strive to strengthen bilateral cooperation, even as he assured that the Federal Government will continue to provide an enabling environment for investors.

Nigerian High Commissioner to India, Ahmed Sule, who said the NIBC is a platform to identify potential business partners and provide opportunities to leverage them, charged the delegates to interact with their Nigerian counterparts to explore the country’s vast potential.

On his part, Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Gangadharan Balasubramanian, who said about 135 Indian companies in different sectors are in Nigeria providing thousands of jobs, stressed the need for more investments in manufacturing, Fintech, artificial intelligence, green agriculture, renewable energy and Information and Communication Technology (ICT), among others.

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