Firms urged to build Nigerian trade links

Good match: Members of the Nigerian delegation visit Sheffield United's ground during their trade mission to the city
Good match: Members of the Nigerian delegation visit Sheffield United's ground during their trade mission to the city
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COMPANIES in the Sheffield City Region have been urged to seize the initiative and the opportunities for trade with Nigeria – or face being frozen out by the Chinese and Americans.

The call comes from Dayo Israel, a special assistant for international relations, strategy and community development, working with Nigeria’s senate.

Mr Israel was, speaking during a visit by a 100-member Nigerian trade delegation that was one of the largest overseas trade delegates to visit Sheffield.

“Sheffield and Nigeria share a lot of similar industries and there is a link between the needs in Nigeria and the services provided by Sheffield,” Mr Israel told Star Business, speaking during a break in a trade seminar attended by around 160 representatives of local businesses.

“We have major needs in the power generation sector and in developing infrastructure.

“We are not talking about aid – we are talking about trade. Nigeria is a nation of 170 million people. It’s a major, major market and the Chinese are taking a lot of that market. What are the Brits waiting for?” he asked.

Mr Israel said links between the Nigerian Government and UK Trade and Investment had helped to make it easier for British businesses wanting to do business in the African state.

Members of the Nigerian trade delegation visiting the Sheffield City Region included Dr Tunde Sodade and Adenike Aboderin, senior advisers to the government of Ogun State.

Ogun is described as the “Gateway State” to Nigeria and West Africa and neighbours Lagos State – Nigeria’s smallest state, its commercial capital and home to its major port. “Companies might have their headquarters in Lagos, but their factories are in Ogun State,” said Dr Sodade.

“We have the largest concentration of industries in the country.”

Ogun has launched a drive to develop new manufacturing and knowledge transfer partnerships with businesses abroad.

Part of that drive, said Mrs Aboderin, includes creating a one stop shop for investors, designed to avoid the bureaucracy which foreign companies complain can cause significant delays when trying to do business in Nigeria.

In addition to new manufacturing partnerships, Ogun’s representatives have also been seeking to develop educational and training links to ensure the state, which has the largest population in Nigeria, also has people with the skills it needs for its industries.

They have also been seeking partners to work on major infrastructure development programmes in the state.