Business, energy, education, and ideological bonding that harks back to the common struggle against colonialism and apartheid. These are key pillars of the dynamic and multifarious relations between India and Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s leading oil producer.
Nigeria always loomed large on India’s diplomatic horizon – New Delhi set up a diplomatic nation in this West African country in 1958, two years before Nigeria gained independence. India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit to Nigeria in 1962 was a landmark that set the tone for multilayered interaction between the two multi-ethnic, multi-religious and developing societies. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Nigeria and his address to the Nigerian parliament in 2007 opened new avenues for cooperation and elevated relations to the level of strategic partnership.
The economic dynamism in relations is evident in the scale of bilateral trade and investment.
India is Nigeria’s largest trading partner and Nigeria is India’s largest trading partner in Africa. Indian companies are also the second largest employers in Nigeria. Bilateral trade between India and Nigeria stood at USD 16.4 billion in 2014-15. More than 100 companies are thriving in Nigeria, which are owned or operated by Indians or Persons of Indian origin. These companies, among others, include Bharti Airtel, Indorama, Olam International (now Singapore registered), Tata, Bajaj Auto, Birla Group, Kirloskar, Mahindra, Ashok Leyland and Godrej. Pharmaceuticals, steel and power transmission are sectors where Indian companies have made a special mark.
Over the years, Nigeria has emerged a crucial partner in India’s energy security as it supplies nearly 8-12 per cent of oil imports sought by Asia’s emerging economy. India’s import of crude and petroleum products in 2014-15 was worth US$ 13.532 billion.
Development and security
Capacity building and bolstering infrastructure remain key planks of India’s development partnership with Nigeria. In 2007, India had pledged US$100 million line of credit for three power projects in Nigeria.
Besides energy and business, India-Nigeria relations are also underpinned by shared strategic interests and cooperation in international fora like the United Nations and World Trade Organization. With the rise of brutal terrorist outfits like Boko Haram ravaging not just Nigeria but also a wide swathe of West Africa, the two sides are looking to enhance counter-terror cooperation.
Bollywood Bonding: People-to-People
While a host of shared interests across the spectrum have brought the two nations closer, what imparts special resonance to India-Nigeria relations is cultural affinity, love for films and belief in the power of education to transform lives. The people-to-people connections are robust and manifest themselves in enormous goodwill India enjoys in Nigeria. About 40,000 Nigerians got Indian visas during 2014, with most of them coming to India for education or treatment.
An older generation of Nigerians remember fondly being taught by Indian teachers and treated by Indian doctors. Many of them have vivid memories of watching Indian movies, a passion that animates them even now, as was clear from the success of the Festival of Indian Films hosted in Lagos last year, which was inaugurated by Nigeria’s First Lady, H.E. Mrs. Dame Patience Jonathan. There are plans to organize a Festival of Nigerian films in India.
Indian films are being telecast on local channels and continue to find a captive audience in Kano, Kaduna and other parts of Nigeria. The 35,000-strong Indian community in Nigeria, which includes about 25,000 Indian nationals and about 10,000 Persons of Indian origin holding other nationalities, have excelled in different fields in their adopted homeland.
- India Writes Network
- (This article was first published in iafs.in – the official website of India-Africa Forum Summit-III)
Bilateral Trade: USD 16.4 billion in 2014-15
Investments: Over 100 companies, owned by Indians or PIOs operate in Nigeria. These include, among others, Tata, Bajaj Auto, Birla Group, Kirloskar, Mahindra, Ashok Leyland, NIIT, ApTech, New India Assurance, Bhushan Steel, KEC, Skipper Nigeria, Dabur, Godrej and Primus Super-speciality hospital
Key India-assisted Projects
India granted LOC USD 100 million to Nigeria in 2007 for three power projects: 1) Enugu – USD 40 million II) Cross Rivers- USD 30 million III) Kaduna – USD 30 million.
Under Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme, 200 slots have been allocated to Nigeria for 2015-16.
35,000 persons, including 25,000 Indian nationals and around 10,000 Persons of Indian origin holding other nationalities
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