– By Charles Okonji
Federal Government’s efforts at wooing foreign investors appear to be yielding positive results as some Russian companies express willingness to do business in the country.
This was let out in Abuja recently during a Nigerian-Russian business meeting at the instance of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) in collaboration with NACCIMA, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Russia (NIDO) and the Nigerian Embassy in Russia.
Ivan Klevtsov, leader of when a 16-man delegation from Russia, representing different companies, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Metalwork, a Russian based production and engineering company, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said they were interested in ”exploring the Nigeria market and developing the market enterprise.”
According to Klevtsov, areas of interest by the companies include oil and gas, mineral development, security and financing technology. He noted that the plan is to create a service centre for Russian manufacturers.
“People can easily maintain products made by Russian companies and Nigerian companies producing similar products. We have plan to open station for technical support for production in Nigeria and this will cut down the importation of equipment parts,’’ he said
Earlier, Nigerian Ambassador to the Russian Republic, Prof. Abdullahi Shehu, said that Russia had a lot of potential for Africa. In his words: “The challenges therefore is for Russia to understand Africa, to open up and be ready to do business with Africa.”
He encouraged the private sector to be actively engaged in businesses and establish networks with the business community, adding that it would enhance the trade volume. “I don’t want to sound as if we are not satisfied with the trade volume because two years ago, it was less than 300 million and for us to reach $ 600 million despite the impact of COVID-19, it is a significant progress. We commend ourselves, but there is room for improvement and that is why we are holding this meeting here today,’’ Shehu said.
For his part, 2nd Deputy President of Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Jani Ibrahim said that the meeting would further deepen the bilateral relations of both countries for inclusive economic growth. He assured the visiting delegation that the private sector in Nigeria is committed to partnering private businesses in Russia to increase our trade volumes.
“NACCIMA recommends that Nigeria and Russia needs to move their bilateral relations to a new level, a functional cooperation, a key and strategic economic samples, so as to increase both quantity and the quality of trade and investments,’’ Ibrahim said.
In his address at the occasion, Dr Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, President of ACCI, stressed that Nigeria needed Russian technology to boost industrialization in the country..
Represented by Victoria Akai, Director General of ACCI, Abubakar said Russia also needs Nigeria as a market for its industrial products and military equipment.
“There is weak indication that the two countries have sufficient and adequate perception of each other. This, in part, is responsible for the lack of the political will to implement the existing bilateral agreements,’’ Abubakar said.
He emphasised that the commitment by both countries to deepen bilateral trade would boost the trade volume significantly.
In his words; “Although, the trade volume between Nigeria and Russia is still low, about less a billion dollars, but as both countries have reaffirmed commitment to boosting the trade volume significantly, it is an opportunity to expand our trade volumes.
“Nigeria is an economic powerhouse in the West African region and one of Africa’s fastest growing economies and the country with the largest population as estimated by the World Trade Organisation.
“Nigeria has an estimated current total export of over 53 billion USD and imports of over 47 billion USD with an average GDP of USD 448 billion as estimated in the first quarter of 2021,’’ he said.
On his part, Chairman NIDO-Russia, Uwem Samson, said that the business meeting would enable the delegation know Nigeria more, adding that they would expose their findings to the larger business community in Russia.