By Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri Vellamvelly Muraleedharan, has disclosed that Indian investments in Nigeria amount to $20 billion.
Muraleedharan, who spoke at the inaugural session of the Nigeria-India Business Council (NIBC) in Abuja, also said that Nigeria has always been a favorite investment destination for Indian companies.
Muraleedharan further said that India’s high-level multi-sector trade delegation is ready to collaborate across different sectors in the country.
“I am aware that there are approximately 135 Indian companies in Nigeria which are said to have invested over $20 billion. It is also a matter of pride that companies owned by Indians or people of Indian descent are deemed to be Nigeria’s second largest job providers.Nigeria’s large and growing population, talented youth, abundant natural resources, democratic and business-friendly government and very strong cultural ties between our people have all fueled the commitment economic growth between the two countries. But there is still great potential to strengthen our economic cooperation, and with the pandemic behind us, the two countries must vigorously seek to make up for the opportunities lost in the past two years,” said Muraleedharan.
Speaking on India-Nigeria trade, the Indian Foreign Minister said that Nigeria is India’s biggest trading partner in Africa and a very valuable energy partner.
He revealed that bilateral trade between the two countries from 2021 to 2022 has increased significantly from the previous year to reach $14.95 billion.
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According to Muraleedharan, “Collaboration in trade and economic fields between two countries is much easier when the political relationship is strong and the leaders of the countries are determined to further improve the ties. I am happy that this is the case between India and Nigeria. Relations between India and Nigeria began even before Nigeria’s independence in 1960, with the establishment of our mission in Lagos in 1958. Our shared colonial past, our diverse populations and our common economic program based on democracy and sustainable development have united us even on the world stage. We have common positions on most issues affecting the developing world, climate change and terrorism, especially cross-border terrorism. We support Nigeria’s aspirations on the international stage and are optimistic about our countries’ ability to strengthen our coordination in multilateral fora, especially with India which is to host the prestigious G20 summit in 2023.”
He also said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, cooperation between India and Nigeria has only intensified with regular telephone interactions between the leaders of the two countries, India’s provision of more than seven tons of essential medicines at the height of the pandemic and the donation of 100,000 “made in India” vaccines to Nigeria under India’s “vaccine maitri” initiative.
“We are now exploring the possibility of joint manufacturing facilities for COVID-19 and other vaccines with some African countries, and we understand that Nigeria is also interested in such partnerships with India.
“India has always been a very reliable partner for its African friends and has been committed to the socio-economic development of Africa in line with its own development priorities. Your priorities are our guiding principles for economic cooperation and our assistance in this area has always been maintained in the best interests of your country.
“Partnership for development has been one of the most important pillars of our relationship. It is heartening to note that development cooperation projects are bringing about positive changes in the lives of Africans. In Nigeria, the Government of India, through EXIM Bank of India, is funding a solar power plant and street lighting project in Kaduna State and a gas-fired power plant in Cross Rivers State for a combined cost of nearly US$60 million.
“We greatly appreciate the Nigerian government’s efforts towards self-reliance, to encourage local manufacturing, promote sustainable agriculture for economic development, diversify its energy mix from crude oil to gas and other forms of renewable energy and secure investment in its infrastructure projects.
“Today India’s high-level multi-sector business delegation present here is ready to collaborate across different sectors. Although there is a tendency to follow the known way and traditional ways of doing business, I urge companies to look at India’s strengths in various futuristic areas like Fintech, Al, Healthcare including vaccine manufacturing, digital and green growth and adapting them to the needs and requirements of Nigeria. India’s experience in innovative technological solutions to different problems, a growth spurt in unicorns and startups, and the adaptation of new technologies, including drones, are some of the areas that could lead to increased interaction between our two economies. The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) headquartered in Hyderabad, India and winner of the 2021 African Food Prize, is already collaborating with Nigeria and has a center in Kano State where scientific research and experience sharing takes place in various products including millet. Nigeria has a lot of land to offer for the production of various commodities, and Indian companies should explore the possibility of investing in agricultural production, while creating large-scale jobs, generating income and even enabling the economy to move up the value chain through the establishment of agribusiness facilities,” the Indian foreign minister said.