By Merit Ibe
In a bid to deepen the bilateral trade between Nigerian and Russian businesses, nine Russian firms have indicated interest to invest over $500 million in the Nigeria’s manufacturing sector.
Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), Russia, Mr Sampson Uwem-edimo, made this known in Lagos, ahead of the forthcoming Russia- Nigeria Business conference.
NIDO chairman pointed out that the volume of trade between both countries was below expectation, not withstanding the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of both countries.
“No investment happens without trade; the trade volume between Nigeria and Russia today is around half a billion dollars; sometimes, it gets to a billion dollars.
“It is a very small amount for this kind of business, and for Russia and Nigeria that currently have more than three trillion dollars GDP market.
“What we want to do is to see how we can improve the volume of trade between the two countries within the next two years.
“We do not just want trade, but we want it to lead to investment in terms of manufacturing. “So, we are not only looking at these nine companies, but using them as a test run to see the response from the Nigerian side.
“Ultimately, we hope that within the next three years, we can get between 30 and 40 Russian companies making some sort of manufacturing in Nigeria,” he said.
Uwem-edimo emphasised that the conference would deepen ties between the business community of both countries, while also enabling both economies to understand their markets.
The chairman maintained that plans were ongoing to bring on board, the Russian Export-Import Bank and Nigerian banks to the network to address issues of foreign exchange.
Uwem-Edimo said the move would create job opportunities for many unemployed Nigerian youths, adding that no fewer than 170 Nigerian companies had registered for the conference.
Also, Suren Vardanyan, Vice-President, Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said he was leading the campaign for Russian companies to succeed in Africa under the project “Moscow- Africa”.
“But, we want Nigeria to be the ‘Gateway to Africa’ due to its population and GDP. Our goal is to triple the trade volume within the next two years and bring direct partnership in the area of manufacturing, as the Russian companies can collaborate with new or existing Nigerian companies for expansion or creation of production plants.
“Nigeria can gain employment for her people, as we hope to bring in a minimum of 30 companies within two years that will provide employment for not less than 7,500 families,” Vardanyan stressed.
He noticed that through the chamber, nine Russian manufacturers expressed willingness to invest in Nigeria and more than 20 Nigerian companies had indicated interest to drive this wish to reach a positive result.