Republic of Ireland has hinted of plans to expand its investment portfolio in Nigeria in the next four years.
Giving this assurance was the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Conveney.
He spoke in Lagos when he led a delegation of Irish businessmen on a trade mission to Nigeria.
The Irish minister who disclosed that he had a fruitful meeting with his counterparts in Nigeria, namely: Rotimi Amaechi of and Chief Audu Ogbeh, emphasised that the interface and discussion session will be mutually rewarding as well as strengthen bilateral relations for both countries.
Upbeat, Conveney who was in the company of Ambassador of Ireland to Nigeria, Seán Hoy and Chief Executive, Enterprise Ireland, Julie Sinnamon, said this was probably one of the largest trade missions from Ireland to have ever visited Nigeria.
“We have the largest ever trade mission we have brought to Nigeria. We have 42 companies with us, ranging from aviation, financial services, construction, waste management, agriculture, software system and among a broad spectrum of different Irish skills set hat we are hoping will become embedded in the Nigerian economy in the future.”
The trade mission, he assured, will provide a foundation on which to build strong economic links with West Africa, especially with Nigeria and Ghana. “The region which has a strong demand for imports of quality food, given the size of its population and Ireland is strategically placed to be a key supplier of quality dairy and meat products, but also high-end services in the field of education, finance, engineering, construction and technology.”
Conveney who is also the Minister Defence in his home country, said his country has a strong trade relationship already with Nigeria dating back to 1961 Ireland established its first ever embassy in the continent of Africa in Nigeria.
The envoy who acknowledged that the country has immense potential for growth, said: “Nigeria is possibly the most exciting economy in the world to work in considering the potential for growth and expansion here in terms of resources, in terms of population growth. By 2050, it is projected that the current population of about 190million could expand to say about 430million people. And that pace of growth is going to drive food demand, in terms of consumption pattern, in terms of energy, water, transportation, financial services and quality of life issues and so on. And that is very challenging environment to work but it’s also very exciting.”
In a short remark, Sinnamon said: “This trade mission is about helping Irish companies to optimise on the opportunity that exists, as the continent transitions from the need for assistance, to a continent of opportunity; the so-called ‘aid to trade’ journey.
Our ambition is to reach export sales of €600m to the region by 2018 and we will continue to work with ambitious and capable Irish companies to expand their market share in African countries, exploring and developing lucrative trading relationships that ultimately deliver export-led job creation in Ireland.”
Overall, bilateral trade with Nigeria was worth half a billion euro in 2014.