THE Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mahesh Sachdev, has expressed satisfaction over the recent growth in Nigeria – India bilateral trade.
This assertion was disclosed recently at the discussion titled “Unlocking Business Possibilities: Lesson from Nigeria- India partnership” held at the Lagos Business School.
Sachdev said that India was Nigeria second largest trading partner with $14.6 billion between 2010 and 2011, while his country also invested about $5 billion in Nigeria’s economy in 2010, making it the largest single investor during the year.
He stated that opportunities in the bilateral economic relationship could be strengthened in the areas of power generation, petrochemical, vocational training, information technology, hydrocarbon and pharmaceutical sector, which involved going into retailing and distribution.
The commissioner explained that Nigerian entrepreneurs could target India as a market for their products which included, palm oil, solid minerals, cashew, handicraft, foodstuff, commodities, consumer goods, cocoa and herbs which the India used for their medicinal purposes.
He identified the major obstacles that could affect the economic ties between the two countries as lack of proper government-to-government framework, saying for instance, bilateral investment promotion agreement was not in place.
Besides, he added that there had been no direct flight, direct banking contacts, direct ship contact between the nations.
The high commissioner expressed happiness with the quality of ideas generated at the brainstorming session, stressing that the two countries needed to identify where they could be relevant to each other’s requirements, as there were huge numbers of possibilities.
“I was pleased to have this session in coordination and assistance with LBS, it is the first time that India has held such a session in Africa,” he said.
The Chairman Nigerian Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Imo Itsueli stressed the need for the two countries to get more familiarised, and also pay visits to each other, stating that there was a lot of misconceptions about each other.
He said that such visit could only correct the negative perceptions and also give better views of what Nigeria and Nigerians business men represented.
He also said that Nigerians were honest and hard working business men contrary to the views of many Indians that Nigerians were crooks, (419), adding that Nigerians too heard a lot of stories about the Indian fellows who didn’t want to pay tax, do straight business and give what was due to Nigerian staff. He said that all these might not be totally true about Indians.
“We are all not saints in Nigeria, of course, the Indians are not all crooks and saints, we have bad eggs in India, we have bad eggs in Nigeria,” he said.
He added that Nigeria could benefit from India in areas such as IT and health care facilities, which they were very good at, explaining that about 54 to 55% of the India workforce was working in agriculture. He said that Nigeria could as well key into this, stating that India was a world leader in many things.
Itsueli advised Nigeria against excessive spending and said that effort should be made to prevent any form of wastage in government.
“We are spending so much on recurrent issues rather than capital projects, we need to grow,” he said.
Professor, Olawale Ajai who was one of the panelists said that Nigeria did not need to get teachers from India to train Nigerian students, stating that the country had many people who were experts, brilliant and competent to train Nigerian students. He added that the government only needed to put its house in order.
Olawale added that the world in which we were, it was the private sector that drove the economy, therefore charging the people in the private sectors of the two countries to wake up to the task.
On his own part, Chairman, Zinox Technologies Limited, Dr. Leo Stan Ekeh, expressed displeasure at the attitudes of some highly placed Nigerians who always look for opportunities to criticise Nigerian products, thus giving undue advantage to foreign brands.
Leo said that the difference between Nigeria and India was consumption, noting that Nigerians prefer Indian product to their own.
Others panelists included Dr. Harbhajan Singh Bath, Group Chief Information Officer, Chellarams Plc, Mr. Subhomoy Bhattaacarjee, executive editor, Financial Express, India.
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