By Kester Kenn Klomegah
Under the aegis of the new Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Russians are now preparing to reorganize the Ajaokuta steel industry which was abandoned after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and to continue the energy, oil and gas projects in Nigeria. , as well as to facilitate trade between Nigeria and Russia.
After the collapse of the USSR, Russia struggled to find ways to regain some of its Soviet-era economic influence across Africa, and Nigeria was high on the agenda. from Russia to rekindle multi-faceted trade ties, at least to share its market and seize similar opportunities. in the United States and China.
There had been a number of trade deals and proposals before, presented in Russian-Nigerien relations. As early as June 2009, Dmitry Medvedev as president visited Nigeria for the first time, held talks on possible nuclear energy, oil exploration and military cooperation.
According to Rosatom of Russia, the nuclear protocol offered the possibility of bilateral cooperation for the development of nuclear infrastructure and the joint exploration and exploitation of uranium deposits. The goal, two nuclear power plants estimated at $ 20 billion, most of it by Russia, is to increase Nigeria’s electricity supply.
Russia’s second-largest oil company and privately owned Lukoil have been going back and forth in recent years with plans to expand operations into Nigeria and a number of West African countries.
Nigeria is an economic power in the West African region. As is known, Nigeria is one of Africa’s fastest growing economies and has the largest population. Russia and Nigeria have economic relations, but these are not compatible with the long-standing cordial relations between the two countries.
In addition, Nigeria is a large market with enormous potential for potential foreign investors, just like Russia. Sadly, investors on both sides seem little or unaware of these opportunities. This is generally attributed to the apparently insufficient knowledge of the many investment opportunities in the two countries.
Statistics are extremely difficult to come by. At the end of 2018, Russia’s trade with Nigeria reached nearly US $ 600 million, which is still considered to be far below the full potential of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
Surprisingly, speaking of bilateral economic footprints, the Russians and Nigerians are not prepared to give the necessary useful information about Russia’s investment in Nigeria. Seen as a two-way street, Nigeria’s presence in Russia is only the diplomatic representative office.
New windows, in practice, are still opening, in particular with the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the most ambitious integration initiative included in the African Union’s Agenda 2063. . It focuses on industrial hubs, locating the manufacturing and marketing of goods and services across Africa.
The Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, created and inaugurated at the end of September 2021, now has the main task of strengthening bilateral economic relations between the two countries. This will help implement some of the important issues that were discussed at the historic first Russia-Africa summit held in October 2019 in Sochi, Russia.
The President of the Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Obiora Okonkwo told the visiting Russian delegation headed by Ambassador Oleg Ozerov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and head of the secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum (RAPF), that the establishment of the NRCCI was the first step towards reviving and strengthening existing relations between Nigeria and Russia.
He said the inauguration of the chamber marked the start of a new journey that will “allow Nigeria to explore trade relations with the Russian Federation, and promote economic growth, technology transfer, development and promote better understanding between the two countries ”.
Reports indicate that the Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NRCCI) was established and incorporated under the Companies and Related Affairs Act 1990 and has established beneficial relationships and contacts with many organizations of economic development of the Russian Federation.
The main objectives of the NRCCI are to promote commerce, industry, commerce and ancillary services; to promote, advance and protect commercial, industrial, commercial and professional enterprises.
“We are therefore seeking to set up an industrial development mechanism built on the principle of mutually beneficial relations with their own groups of companies. The strategy is to establish and maintain business contacts with the many existing economic development organizations in Russia and Nigeria, ”Okonkwo explained.
The Russian trade delegation included Andrei Albeshchenko from the Association for Economic Cooperation with African States; Andrei Vladimirov, State Foreign Atomic Energy Company; Stepan Belanovich, Uralchem United Chemical Company JSC; Maksim Poltoradnev, Uralchem United Chemical Company JSC and other Russian business executives.
The business visit to Abuja was organized by AECAS with the support of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the assistance of the Russian Embassy in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Ozerov and his delegation paid a courtesy visit to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa.
According to reports, Vice President Osinbajo expressed keen interest in the development of bilateral cooperation and the need to increase the presence of Russian companies in Nigeria. Vice President Osinbajo stressed that the official inauguration of a Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NRCCI) will consolidate efforts to deepen lasting relations and boost business opportunities between Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Russian Federation.
“We are interested in developing relations with Nigeria. It’s one of the biggest and most promising economies where we see a lot of opportunity. We were pleased to learn that the Vice-President supports the development of bilateral economic relations.
“Russia has a lot to offer, from new technologies to fertilizer, agriculture, energy and infrastructure projects. We must step up cooperation to achieve tangible results before the second Russia-Africa summit, ”Ozerov, head of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum secretariat, told reporters at the press conference following the meeting.
As part of the joint declaration adopted at the first Russia-Africa Summit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation established the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum. The Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum also decided to establish AECAS.