Some Trade and Diplomatic Experts have urged the Federal Government to leverage on the opportunities of the forthcoming Russia-Africa Economic Summit to revive investment and deepen economic ties with Russia.
The experts made the call on Thursday in Abuja at a roundtable organised by the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), to set agenda for Nigeria on the forthcoming summit.
The Russia—Africa Economic Summit is scheduled to hold from October 23 to October 24 2019 in Sochi, Russia.
Dr Usman Mohammed, a Professor of International Relations and Diplomacy in a keynote address listed some investable areas for consideration by Nigeria to boost integration with Russia.
Mohammed listed areas of investment to include textile industries, steel and metallurgy, automobile oil and gas engineering exploration aquaculture, solar technology, clean and sustainable environment, waste management technology and tourism.
He said such investment would help in the revival of textiles industries in Lagos and Kaduna that were supplying products to the entire Nigeria neighbouring countries like Togo, Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
“Russia can help to harness our natural environment for hospitality industry, poverty alleviation.
“Russia can invest in poverty alleviation, steel exploration and development, sports and youth development and scholarship for post graduate students in Russia,’’ he said.
Speaking on the initial relationship between Russia and Nigeria, he said, Russia was one of the first countries Nigeria established relationship with immediately after independence in 1960.
Describing Russia as one of the biggest markets and Nigeria as an economic power house in West Africa, he said they could work together to strengthen diplomatic ties to move the countries forward.
Also, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, ACCI President, said that Nigeria and Russia had taken steps to deepen their bilateral ties in political, trade, economic and humanitarian areas, adding that there were potentials in areas such as hydrocarbon production and processing.
Kayode, also the Chairman, Nigeria-Russia Business Council (NRBC), said that there was cooperation in area of nuclear power industry and agriculture, continued military-technical, training civilian specialists and law enforcement officers for Nigerians at Russian universities.
“It is on record that these two countries have held three meetings of the Joint Commission; the last was held as far back in 2009.
“The Joint Commission was the platform for the two countries to sit down and draw up agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on how to conduct businesses and investment in each other’s country,’’ he said.
He said that desire to deepen business relations could be attained by fostering further cooperation with support from the Inter-governmental Russian-Nigerian Mixed Commission for Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation.
The AU Trade Policy Ambassador said that over the years, the diplomatic relationship had witnessed the establishment of RNBC, which oversees economic activities between the two countries.
He said the council was, however, inactive for a long time since the demise of the initial founder, Mr Goodie Ibru while after series of meetings the council was revived under a new leadership.
“Additionally, we must step up direct contacts, such as provided by this forum to bring together members of the Russian and Nigerian stakeholders to properly position ourselves to maximally tap into the dividends that may accrue from the meeting.
The ACCI Vice President, Media, Mr Jude Igwe, also called on Nigeria to leverage on the summit in Russia to factor in the issues of grants and international intervention for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
The industrialist lamented that most of the financial programmes of the government aimed at boosting the MSMEs in the country were hardly accessed by the beneficiaries, who were the engine of the economic growth.
The summit is a milestone in laying foundations for the promotion of trade and economic relations among the economies across the African continent and enabling the diversification and deepening of economic collaboration between Russia and Africa.
The event will be attended by African Heads of State and government officials, leaders of Russian, Eurasian, and international business communities, as well as representatives of governments and economic integration organisations from Africa.