Nigeria and India have inaugurated the Nigeria-India Business Council (NIBC) to serve as a fulcrum for the expansion of trade and investment between the two countries in new areas such as fintech, artificial intelligence, renewable energy, and technology among others.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who inaugurated the platform in Abuja on Tuesday, said that the NIBC will bring about a mutually beneficial economic exchange.
Speaking on the theme “Expanding Trade and Investment Opportunities between Nigeria and India” the Vice President, who was represented by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, said “both countries have dynamic business environments which provide opportunities for trade and investment in addition to our common aspiration for promoting growth and improving the welfare and material conditions of our people.
“Nigeria and India have a shared interest in successfully tackling the challenges facing the global economy such as climate change, global public health emergencies like COVID-19, and the fallout of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. There are many areas in which both countries can build an already active bilateral relationship. These include education, creative industry, the digital economy, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, manufacturing, oil and gas and I am certain that such ties will continue to blossom.
“Indeed I expect the NIBC will be an active vehicle to further strengthen and consolidate our relations and also serve as a platform to coordinate and facilitate investment and business interactions,” he said.
He noted that in the area of security both countries are collaborating on defense to curb the scourge of insecurity in Nigeria.
He however called for more collaboration in the areas of entrepreneurship and vocational training, stressing that India has been able to use entrepreneurship to bring its unemployment level to around 7% while that of Nigeria is quite high at about 35%.
“Similarly through entrepreneurship, India has been able to boost 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 skill acquisition and capacity building, which puts large number of young people at work place as well as boost the nation’s capacity in innovation and technology and contributing to the nation’s economic growth,” he added.
Visiting India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri V. Muraleedharan, in his remarks said Nigeria has always been a favourite investment destination for Indian businesses. He added that there are around 135 Indian companies in Nigeria that are estimated to have invested over $20 billion in Nigeria.
“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 large and growing population of Nigeria, its talented youth, the abundance of natural resources, a democratic and business-friendly Government, and very strong cultural bonds between our peoples have all fuelled the rising economic engagement between both countries.
“But there is still great potential to enhance our economic cooperation and, with the pandemic behind us, both countries must look to vigorously make up for opportunities lost during the last two years,” he said.
On the trade front, the Minister said Nigeria has been India’s largest trading partner in Africa and a very valuable energy partner. He stressed that bilateral trade between both countries in the year 2021-22 had risen substantially over the previous year to touch $14.95 billion.
Nigeria’s Minister of State For Foreign Affair, Zubairu Dada, in his remarks, said both countries will strive hard to strengthen bilateral cooperation even as he assured that the government will continue to provide an enabling environment for investors.
Nigerian High Commissioner to India, Ahmed Sule, said the NIBC is a platform to identify potential business partners and provide the opportunity to leverage them. He implored the delegates to interact with their Nigerian counterparts to explore the potential of the country.
High Commissioner of India to Nigeria, Gangadharan Balasubramanian, said that about 135 Indian companies in diverse fields are in Nigeria providing thousands of jobs.
He stressed the need for more investment in manufacturing, fintech, Artificial Intelligence, green agriculture, renewable energy, and Information and Communications Technology.