Russia Plans Stronger Economic Ties with Nigeria

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Chris Uba

The Russian Federation is planning to increase the tempo of economic relationship with Nigeria as part of the ongoing efforts to renew the Soviet Union era relationship with Africa, which went down after the collapse of the union.

The Executive Director of Russia-Nigeria Business Council (RNBC), Mr. Valeriy Vozdvizhenskiy, who stated this when he led a 15-man business delegation to Nigeria, said the Russian Government has planned to increase economic relationship with Nigeria because of the strategic position the country occupies in Africa.

Currently, according to Vozdvizhenskiy, who spoke during a Business Forum hosted by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) last Wednesday in Lagos, the Russian total investment in Nigeria is $300 million, an amount which he considered very low.

The visit, he said, was designed to improve on this.

He said following the ongoing effort to strengthen relationship with African countries in line with what was obtained during the era of the defunct Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR), the tempo of trade between the two countries would increase even as he added that President Muhammadu Buhari has been selected as one of the leaders to participate in the Russian-African Summit slated to hold in Moscow later this year.

The summit, he added, would be presided over by President Vladimir Putin.

Vozdvizhenskiy said the delegation was in Nigeria to explore business opportunities, adding that their interests include agriculture, energy, information, technology, petrochemical, construction, transportation, communication and manufacturing.

He urged Russian companies to invest in Nigeria because it is the largest and most important economy in Africa.

The Nigerian Ambassador to Russia, Prof. Stephen Torkuma Ugbah, who accompanied the Russian business delegation, told THISDAY that Russian investment in Nigerian economy is low, hence the two countries need to ramp up investments and economic partnership.

Ugbah said Russia has vast land mass and virtually all natural resources in the world, adding that these make the country an ideal trading partner for Nigeria.

“We have been trading with the West and Chinese; let us also trade with the Russians because they can be of assistance to us in the country,” he said.

Already, according to the envoy, the diplomatic relationship had witnessed the establishment of Russia Nigeria Business Council (RNBC) in both countries to oversee economic activities between the two countries.

“From June this year, Nigerian business men and women will start visiting Russia on business missions as they too will be coming to Nigeria,” he said, adding that this will further create opportunity for business owners from the two countries to network.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the President of LCCI, Mr. Babatunde Paul Ruwase, who expressed delight with the business visit, said there is a great deal of benefit in the promotion of trade relations between the countries.

Ruwase said trade makes it possible for countries across the world to complement one another.

He said the current trade between “our two countries is still very low-at less than one billion dollars,” noting that this could be increased “with closer cooperation between private sectors of our two countries.”

According to LCCI President, Nigeria could benefit from Russian technologies in many fields, adding that there are tremendous opportunities for cooperation and investment relations in infrastructural development, especially power and engineering infrastructure.