…As Minister says Nigeria accounts for about 57℅ of world Shea production***
Nigeria and India are set to enhance their cultural relations as they mark 60 years of diplomatic relations, the representatives of governments of both countries have said.
The representatives, who spoke at a culture event to celebrate 70 years of India’s independence in Abuja on Tuesday evening, added that plans were underway to expand the countries’ relations.
Nigeria and India have cooperated in various areas, including agriculture, defence, trade, capacity building, healthcare, infrastructure and socio-cultural relations, over the years.
The Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, the upcoming 2018 International Arts and Craft expo would explore India’s cultural diversity and promote partnership between India and Nigeria.
Runsewe added that exchange programmes aimed at promoting cultural relations between both countries would begin in 2019.
“We are going to have exchange programmes between both countries which will commence from next year and it will showcase the strength of our cultural beliefs as a people.
‘’And I believe that will open a new door to the collaboration and the culture, arts and tourism aspects between both countries,” he said.
The Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Nagabhushana Reddy, said that culture event was part of activities to celebrate India’s 70th anniversary and to usher in 60 years of India-Nigeria diplomatic engagement.
Reddy said such events were also planned to showcase India’s cultural diversity and explore ways to promote cultural relations with other countries.
“More importantly, we are trying to bring to the larger audience of Nigeria the celebration of Indian states.
“We have these new series of celebration of Indian states launched by the prime minister in India so that the inherent talents and capacities of the state governments and their engagements with the external world (can be seen).
“The foreign ministry plays an important role in showcasing their inherent art as well as opportunities that exist in the states.
“It is part of that series we have brought today, organised a celebration on Indian states,’’ Reddy said.
In the area of trade relations, the envoy reiterated that India remained Nigeria’s largest trading partner globally and Nigeria India’s largest trading partner in Africa.
He added that plans were underway to organise a joint trade meeting between the ministries of commerce of both countries to identify “how to further expand trade opportunities”.
“As you know, we have 435 Indian companies all over Nigeria, engaged in diverse activities and some of them truly promoting made in Nigeria and manufacturing things in Nigeria, for the Nigerian market and export.
“I look forward to a positive year of bilateral trade because the trend that we have seen so far, from April to October 2017, the trade has increased more than 20 per cent compared to the previous year.
“This only shows that the Nigerian economy is fully recovering and it augurs well for India and Nigeria bilateral trade.”
The highpoints of the culture event were a traditional Kathak dance performance by Indian classical dancer, Surabhi Singh, and her group, and the launch of a book, “The Beginning of Everything Colourful’’ by Nigerian author Onyeka Nwelue.
In the meantime, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajiah Aisha Abubakar, has said that Nigeria accounts for about 57 per cent of the world Shea production.
Abubakar said this at the introduction of the upcoming 11th Annual International Shea Conference themed: “Shea 2018” focused on “Going Further Together” on Tuesday in Abuja.
She said that Nigeria stood to benefit immensely from the Shea Industry if the informal sector was properly harnessed.
The minister said that the industry would boost employment generation, alleviate poverty, create wealth, sustain the environment and attract foreign investment.
“Nigeria accounts for about 57 per cent of the world Shea nut production of which the global Shea market for chocolate value is approximately 117 billion dollars while that of the cosmetics industry stands at 382 billion dollars.
“The 2018 conference no doubt explores the meaning of an African proverb that states “if you want to ‘go quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, go together,” Abubakar said.
She said that the conference would afford Nigeria an opportunity for business linkages with the rest of the world, reduce trade barriers and also achieve sustainability.
“The country would be on the right path to diversifying its economy through strategic focus on the commodity’s export business.
“Shea butter has the potential to eradicate poverty, improve rural economies and also provide richness to our teeming youths,” she added.
On collaboration, she said that the ministry would collaborate with the National Cotton Association of Nigeria (NCA) and the Ministry Agriculture to organise the 16th annual International African Cotton Congress.
Abubakar said that the congress would focus on mechanised cotton farming as an essential equipment to boost African cotton production.
She said that the county was blessed with fertile land for cotton production.
Abubakar said that the conference would provide Nigeria with International best practices as well as new technologies in line with cotton farming.
On Made in Nigeria franchise, Abubakar said that the ministry would champion franchise business development services for Made in Nigeria business access around the world.
According to her, the scheme is aimed at franchising scalable local businesses that have proven their mantle to other countries.
The Managing Consultant, Franchise Business Development Services Limited (FBDS), Mr Chiagozie Nwizu, said that all over the world, businesses were leveraging on the opportunity provided by franchise.
Nwizu said the essence was to build and expand brands, adding that Nigeria cannot be an exception.
He said that the venture would help enhance the economy through local production and by extension, the GDP.
“Countries like India, South Africa and the United States have had success stories and we feel that we can benchmark and replicate same for Nigerian businesses.
“Majority of foreign businesses in Nigeria today are franchised and we think that we can leverage successful businesses in Nigeria just like we have the likes of Shoprite, Donmino Pizzas, and so on,” Nwizu said.
Responding, the minister pledged the ministry’s support and enthusiasm for promotion of Made in Nigeria products.
She said that there was need for the National Assembly to hasten the passage of the franchise bill that had scaled through the second reading to provide the legal framework for the scheme.