The Russian-Nigerian Business Council, with participation of a delegation from Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Nigerians in the Diaspora in Europe (NIDOE), held its annual meeting in December, pledged to strengthen cooperation in various economic sectors after reviewing the performance for the previous year.
The Vice-President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Vladimir Padalko, noted in his welcoming speech, that Nigeria is one of the three largest trade partners of Russia among sub-Saharan African countries and the positive trends emerging in Russian-Nigerian relations need to be developed.
And for developing this, it is necessary to give the domestic business factual information, especially on business safety and profitability in Nigeria. By the end of 2018, trade with Nigeria reached almost US$600 million, but still seen as far below the full potential of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
Padalko, however, pointed to prospective areas including the exploration and production of hydrocarbons and solid minerals, the supply of engineering and chemical products, aircraft technology, cooperation in the nuclear industry, energy, and others.
Dmitry Osipov, Chairman of the Russian-Nigerian Business Council, General Director of PJSC Uralkali (this company is one of the world’s largest producers of potash fertilizers) stressed that the Council regards Africa in general and Nigeria in particular as a promising market.
In this case, the interests of the Russian business and the Nigerian leadership coincided as both chose agriculture as one of the pivotal points of growth of the country’s economy. He informed that the Business Council includes representatives made of thirty-four Russian companies and practically each of them has its own business interests in Nigeria.
RUSAL is the largest Russian investor in this African country. LUKOIL investments in Nigeria now exceeded US$450 million, and the company plans to bring them up to US$6 billion. Other well-known companies work in this market, including the largest Russian producer of agricultural machinery, Rostselmash.
However, the range of economic spheres can be extended. And here, the Russian-Nigerian Business Council should play its role, among them identifying the most important tasks, analyzing the existing problems and the development of a consolidated position of domestic business in the areas of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
It also sees as important the organization of business interaction with representatives of Nigerian authorities, the establishment and expansion of business contacts with Nigerian entrepreneurs.
Abuja Chamber of Commerce President, Adetokunbo Kayode, stressed that the history of Russian-Nigerian trade relations, and noted that much has changed. He said that the Federal Government of Nigeria has created a
Nigeria is developing rapidly. Now it is the largest market of the continent. The population growth presents a large market for consumer products. Therefore, the presence of Russian business in the heart of Africa is welcomed.
Mercy Haruna, Minister-Counsellor of the Nigerian Embassy in Russia; Rex Essenowo, Chairman of the Russian Branch of Nigerians in the Diaspora in Europe (NIDOE); Kirill Aleshin from the Institute of African Studies; Oleg Svistonov from Rusal Company in Nigeria and other speakers noted the importance of intensifying development of trade and economic relations between Russia and Nigeria.
The NIDOE-Russia was established as a forum for Nigerian professionals residing in Russian Federation to participate in the development of Nigeria. It works closely with the Presidency, the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Senate’s Committee on Diaspora Affairs and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The meeting finally made specific proposals on the work of the Business Council. An agreement on cooperation was signed between the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry.