Nigeria and India on Monday in Abuja established the Nigeria-India Business Council (NIBC) to expand trade and investment between both countries.
The council is aimed at furthering efforts at reaching an anticipated 40 billion dollars worth of trade between both countries.
The NIBC was inaugurated by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday in Abuja.
Speaking at the inauguration, Mr V. Sharma, President of NIBC said, “India is already doing great business with this country and will continue to import crude and gas from the country.
“With 14 to 15 billion dollars of trade today, the potential is to reach about 40 billion dollars.
“So please see, the gap is about 25 to 26 billion dollars. It is a big opportunity,” Sharma said.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who inaugurated the council said both countries would explore new areas of doing business and cooperation to further strengthen bilateral ties between both countries.
Osinbajo, who was represented by Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, Minister of Mines and Steel Development also emphasised the need for the partnership to focus on areas of entrepreneurship that will help reduce the level of unemployment in the country.
“NIBC will be a vehicle to further strengthen and consolidate our existing bond of friendship and also serve as a platform to coordinate and facilitate business actions between the business community of both countries.
“Let me identify two areas in which I will want to see even further cooperation between our two countries, this relates to entrepreneurship and vocational training.
“India has already been able to use entrepreneurship to bring its unemployment levels down to around 7 per cent while that of Nigeria is still high at about 35 per cent.
“Similarly, through entrepreneurship, India has been able to boost its export of goods and services to about 546 billion dollars while Nigeria is only at 70 billion dollars.
“I feel that there is also a need to put emphasis on skills acquisition and capacity building which will place large numbers of young people in the workplace.
‘As well as boost the nation’s capacity, innovation and capacity as well as contribute to the economy,” Osinbajo said.
The vice president also encouraged Indian investors to establish in Nigeria the kind of businesses and services that Nigerians usually travelled to India in search of.
He explained that the businesses when established in Nigeria would thrive where the demand is high and especially where they would be of mutual benefit to both India and Nigeria.
Osinbajo pledged the federal government’s commitment to creating an environment conducive for Indian businesses to thrive.
“I also urge India investors to consider providing here in Nigeria some of the medical and educational services for which Nigerians travel to India.
“Given the scale of the demand, it is easy to say that there is a business sphere for such an investment.
“On its part, the federal government will render the necessary support to all inward investment, continue its efforts to improve the business environment and provide necessary incentives.
“Some of the incentives include pioneer starters, rural location incentives, export expansion scheme, gas utilisation as well as investment allowances,” the VP added.
India’s Minister of State of External Affairs, Shri V. Muraleedharan said Nigeria had always been a favourite investment destination for Indian businesses with about 135 Indian companies operating in Nigeria with investments worth 20 billion dollars.
Muraleedharan added that Nigeria had been India’s largest trading and energy partner in Africa.
“Bilateral trade between both countries in the year 2021-22 had risen substantially over the previous year to touch 14.95 billion dollars.
“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.
“India has always been a very reliable partner for its friends in Africa and is committed to the socio-economic development of Africa in accordance with its own development priorities.
“Your priorities are our guiding principles for economic cooperation and our assistance in this area has always been kept in the best interest of your country.
“Today, the multi-sectoral, high-level business delegation from India present here is ready to collaborate in different sectors,” Muraleedharan said.