By Henry Umoru
THE British government disclosed Monday that its export to Nigeria stood at Â£1.3 billion in 2008 short of what it sold to South Africa, just as the volume of trade it had with Nigeria increased significantly by 30 per cent in 2008 and 23 per cent in the first five months of 2009.
According to the British government, Nigerian exports to the United Kingdom (UK) also increased by 436 per cent this year almost totally covered by oil exports of over Â£200m much of which returns as refined Petrol amounting to Â£129m.
The Exhibition which is taking place at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja, is put together by the Bank of Industry(BOI) and Compass Consulting UK limited with the theme, â€œPromoting Trade, Investment and Global Partnershipsâ€
Dewer who noted that the UK was probably the largest investor in Nigeria with about 20 per cent of Foreign Direct Investment(FDI), said the quality of engagement is high with Nigeria looking up to the UK as a reference point for standards and partnerships. The Envoy stressed the need for right policy decisions to be taken to get the world commerce moving again and also called on the Africa continent to look inword towards fair regional integration and larger common markets without corruption and distortions as well as create new jobs including SMEs rather than protectionism.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director/CEO of Bank of Industry(BOI), Ms Evelyn N. Oputu, stressed that the Enterprise Exhibition (EE) series which is now in its third edition, is part of the developmental mandate of focusing on Public-Private Partnership Process for the promotion of trade, investment and global partnership of BOI.
Represented by the BOI General Manager, SME, Mohammed Alkali, OputuÂ said the annual event has provided a structured platform for current and potential entrepreneurs of African and Caribbean descent based in the United Kingdom and Europe to commence and nurture business ties with their Nigerian counterparts. According to her, â€œIt has been designed as a match making forum that is anticipated to lead to the formation of partnerships as well as the initiation and hopefully the conclusion of joint venture agreements.
â€œThe framework enables UK and European firms to explore the rapidly emerging business opportunities in Nigeria that is the most populous African country from where, aside from the huge domestic market of 150 million people, they could also access other markets within and outside that of Africa which is estimated to over 800 million people.
â€œIn the course of the Bank of Industryâ€™s strategic partnership with Compass Consulting of UK, which is also in its second year, we have continued to jointly explore the potentials of diaspora resources and talent for the realization of Nigeriaâ€™s development aspirations. Our collaborative efforts are mainly aimed at the efficient channelization of diaspora resources towards Nigeriaâ€™s economic development.
â€œAccording to some research findings, Africa accounts for up to $14 billion of the globally recorded remittances which in some African countries is the highest source of foreign exchange inflow. Nigeria which is the most populated African country also has the highest number of migrants.
According to official sources, the recorded remittances from about 20 million Nigerians in diaspora exceeded $ 7 billion in 2008.
â€œAlthough the level of recorded remittances have assumed a down ward trend in 2009, due to the global economic recession, the up side of the melt down is that it has triggered a reversal of the brain drain that characterized the exodus of most of Africaâ€™sÂ and indeed Nigeriaâ€™s talents to economies in the northern hemisphere particularly in the last two decades. The recession that started in relatively more developed nations has given rise to what is now called â€˜â€˜brain gainâ€™â€™ as many diasporas are now heading back to their countries of origin where the economies are still growing and are not as hard hit by the recession.
â€œFor the business inclined Nigerians in the diaspora, the Enterprise Exhibition process has come in handy as a soft landing platform for them. In this regard, we should commend the foresight of Compass Consulting for initiating the process at a time when the meltdown and its resultant effects were not anticipated. The Bank of Industry also deserves commendation for connecting with the vision and supporting itâ€.