ABUJA (NIGERIA): Building on strong business ties between India and Nigeria, Vice-President Hamid Ansari has made a vigorous pitch for upscaling trade and investment between “two of the most dynamic emerging economies of the world.”
In the first high-profile visit from India in nearly a decade, the two countries are focusing on diversifying their economic relationship which has remained heavily focused on oil and gas.
Mr Ansari, who is on a three-day visit to Nigeria, held wide-ranging discussions with his Nigerian counterpart Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja on September 27 which revolved around enhanced energy cooperation, trade and investment and upgrading of security and defence ties.
The India-Nigeria ties are growing and diversifying in new areas, but increasing trade and investment remain at the heart of this crucial bilateral relationship. In his speech at the joint business forum, Mr Ansari exhorted top corporate leaders of India and Nigeria to seize emerging opportunities and identify new sectors of economic cooperation. “In my meetings with the Nigerian leadership, I found a strong desire to expand our commercial engagement,” he said while referring to his discussions with Nigerian leaders.
Alluding to ambitious economic reforms initiated by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Ansari underlined the need for synergising core strengths of India and Nigeria to optimise the potential of economic relationship. “As Nigeria embarks with renewed vigour and determination in realizing greater prosperity for its people, India stands ready to join as a partner,” he said.
“We need to synergize our efforts in the areas of economy and business,” he said. “The vast consumer market, youthful and skilled human resources and expertise in the field of information technology of India coupled with Nigeria’s natural resources, youthful population and strategic location would provide a platform for enhanced economic engagement,” he added.
In his address, the vice-president identified core growth areas for investment: automotive components, automobiles, engineering products, IT, pharmaceuticals, bio-technology and healthcare sectors.
“Infrastructure development and energy security are key areas for cooperation for emerging economies like India and Nigeria. These sectors allow for both our countries to collaborate and benefit from each other’s expertise.”
India is Nigeria’s largest trading partner and Nigeria is India’s largest trading partner in Africa. More than 100 companies have set up their base 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. Indian companies are also the second largest employers in Nigeria.
“Indian investments have exceeded 10 billion US Dollars so far, and another 5 billion US dollars are committed,” said Mr Ansari. Indian investments are concentrated in diverse sectors, including communications, power, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, automotive sector and oil.
Looking ahead, Mr Ansari underlined that in the backdrop of the current international economic and financial situation, “there is an even greater need for us to join hands and synergise our growth strategies.”
“India and Nigeria are well placed to convert this challenge into an opportunity. We count on you, the business leaders from Nigeria and India, to be the architects of this important change,” he added.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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