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Despite Covid-19, India-Nigeria trade remains steady at $13.9bn – Envoy

…As both countries sign MoU on cooperation in outer space

Trade volume between India and Nigeria has remained steady at $13.9 billion despite the negative impact of Covid-19, with greater potential to grow. High Commissioner of India to Nigeria, Abhay Thakur, disclosed this to BusinessDay during events to mark the 74th independence anniversary of India in Abuja at the weekend.

He said it is remarkable how business linkages between the two countries have been flourishing even as trade remained steady within the few months of the Covid-19.

“The volume of trade is 13.9 billion dollars, India’s export is about $3.6 billion dollars and Nigerian export is about $10.3 billion and this will grow even more. India’s export grew by about 20 percent and Nigeria’s export remains steady despite the challenges of Covid-19,” the envoy said.

He added that India is Nigeria’s biggest trading partner, stressing that businesses between both countries are now being conducted online. He said there is constant discussion and interaction between Indian businesses and the Abuja and Lagos Chambers of Commerce to boost businesses between both countries.

“In fact in some ways, you don’t need visa, you don’t need physical travel, you don’t need physical inspection and we are trying to find out the ways and means of doing things online and this has in fact benefitted our two countries, because we are doing more with each other and more frequently,” he added.

He noted that about 5,500 Indians have gone back to India from Nigeria following the Covid-19 even as large number of Nigerians have also come back. He pointed out that all the travels now are essential travels as nobody is today travelling for leisure or for tourism.

“So, it s a big takeaway that our business linkages are very resilient and steady, and this would mean that in the years to come this would be a big push once the COVID-19 is tackled. Business relationship would definitely be stronger than in the past,” he said.

The envoy told reporters that to tackle Covid-19 requires a multifaceted and multipronged response. One of such is holistic wellbeing in health care and how to reach out with medical supplies to a large populace. He stated that efforts are being made to produce the vaccines to which India and Nigeria are making remarkable contributions.

Meanwhile, Nigeria and India have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on “cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes”, according to a statement issued by Garika Tejeswar, Second Secretary (Pol & Info), High Commission of India, Abuja.

The deal, which was concluded on 13 August 2020 at the Federal Ministry of Science & Technology, Abuja, was witnessed by India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri. V. Muraleedharan, through video link while Ogbonnaya Onu, Nigeria’s Minister of Science and Technology, attended the event.

Mr. R. Umamaheswaran, Scientific Secretary, ISRO, was also present through video link from ISRO Headquarters in Bengaluru.

Chairman ISRO Dr. K. Sivan had earlier signed the agreement from the Indian side, while Francis Chizea Director General of National Space Research & Development Agency (NASRDA), Nigeria signed the MoU on behalf of Nigeria.

The MoU envisages India-Nigeria collaboration in space science, planetary exploration, ground stations, development of micro and mini satellites and joint Space R&D. It provides for capacity building assistance by ISRO, exchange of scientific know-how, exchanges between academic institutes and joint symposiums/conferences.

It stated that cooperation in remote sensing, communications and navigation will benefit Nigeria in the fields of forestry, environment, agriculture, mining, watershed development and connectivity.

Over the last 12 years, 49 Nigerian nationals have attended various short-term ITEC courses in India in the fields of Remote Sensing, GIS and Geoinformatics, conducted by the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehradun; Geological Survey of India Training Institute, Hyderabad; and Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, Noida. The above MoU will further enhance India’s capacity building assistance to Nigeria.

The statement added that on the occasion, both sides also agreed to sign a subsidiary MOU between New Space India Limited (NSIL), under ISRO, and Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), under the Federal Ministry of Environment of Nigeria, on cooperation in use of Geospatial Technologies.

India and Nigeria enjoy longstanding, multifaceted and friendly relations. India remains committed to building capacities and contributing towards the socio-economic development of Nigeria, the statement added.

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