Nigeria invokes India success for diversifying West Africa’s economies

ABUJA: Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and the most populous country, has exhorted the region to emulate India’s economic success and called for deepening and diversifying its relations with the world’s fastest growing major economy.

Underlining the importance of the India opportunity for Nigeria and the West African region, Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Okechukwu Enelamah stressed on scaling economic partnership with India, specially as West African countries look to diversify their resource-based economies.

Nigeria could learn from India to diversify its economy amid common challenges faced by both countries, he said at the plenary session of the CII-EXIM Bank Regional Conclave on India West Africa Project Partnership in Abuja on October 8.Mr Enelamah described India as a country that had taken advantage of its diverse culture and population to make economic progress, saying that both countries shared similar complexities.The minister said: “the same way India had diversified is the same way Nigeria seeks to diversify and there is a lot more we can do with India. “If India can do it, Nigeria can do it,” he said, to much applause from the audience comprising top industry leaders and CEOs from India and ECOWAS countries.

“India is one of our strategic countries for trade and investment to grow.”  “The most important role of the government is to create an enabling environment for businesses to forge partnerships and relationships with India,” he said.The minister expressed optimism that the conclave would leverage on opportunities for development within the ECOWAS region which would remain the preferred region for India-Africa relations.

The plenary session of the two-day conclave also saw eloquent expressions of the future of India-West Africa partnership by two ministers from India – Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar and Minister of State for Commerce C.R. Chaudhary.Mr Akbar showcased pathbreaking economic reforms and initiatives for women empowerment taken by the Modi government in India and called for a more robust partnership between India and Africa across the spectrum.

ECOWAS showcases West Africa opportunity

President of the ECOWAS Commission Jean-Claude Kassi Brou underscored that the conclave was important to strengthen business links between ECOWAS and Nigeria and foster economic development for both parties.Outlining economic vibrancy in the region, he said that the Gross Domestic Product of the region stood at $550 billion in 2017, with an economic growth of 2.3 per cent in the same year.Mr Brou also highlighted other economic success stories unfolding in the region.“Economic growth is expected to reach 3.1 per cent in 2018 against 2.3 per cent in 2017, and some economies are “benefitting from the recovery in international commodity price.

“The objective is to reach an economic growth of 6-7 per cent to accelerate economic development.”“More than a third of foreign investments in sub-Saharan Africa are flowing into West Africa; this is a sign of the great potential of our region and strong attractiveness.“Trade between India and West Africa has continued to grow in the recent year, reaching nearly $22 billion up from $17 billion in 2016/17.

“This shows the growing strength of our economic, commercial and financial cooperation.”He said that the development in the region offered opportunities to investors to take advantage of a large market, with the region recording a population of nearly 370 million people.He urged Indian investors to share their technological experience add value to agriculture production, renewable energy, infrastructure development, health, pharmaceuticals, climate change and mining.

Mr Brou assured of ECOWAS’ commitment “to play its role and take proactive measure in following up the conclusion and agreements from this conclave.”

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