Chinedu Nebo, Minister of Power, has assured genuine Polish investors of space in the nation’s fledgling coal to power initiative. P.Courtesy
For the past few years, Federal Republic of Nigeria and Poland have expressed strong concern about practical ways to improve their bilateral economic cooperation, raise trade volume and widen investment. As Africa has now become attractive for many foreign players, Poland has started refocusing its attention and redirecting resources to the African region.
Buziness Africa research has shown that Poland is currently focusing selectively on a number of African countries. Poland is keen to reactivate its bilateral relations with selected African countries that have enormous economic potentials like Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Egypt and Namibia. In this connection, Poland is now seeking better collaboration towards strengthening political and economic relations with Nigeria.
In June 2012, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on political consultations with her Polish counterpart to raise the level of bilateral relations between the two countries.
As a step further, the Polish Prime Minister, His Excellency Donald Tusk, paid a working visit to Nigeria from 11th–14th April 2013, that visit was considered by policy experts and analysts as important as it aimed at examining and identifying the key areas of cooperation and to pave the way for potential investors and industry directors interested in Nigeria. It was also aimed at balancing trade figures by opening Polish market to export goods from Nigeria.
Nigeria, as is well known, has a population of about 178 million population, according to the World Population Review 2014. The country features 36 states and its federal capital known as Abuja. It is Africa's foremost business destination and the largest economy in Africa. Aside, it is the leading member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which has a further population of 130 million population. The cumulative effect of this is access to a market that has over 300 million people.
H. E. Ambassador Samuel Jimba at the 2013 Independence Day reception told his guests that he was in no doubt that "Nigeria is a hugely significant market in Africa that will provide mutually beneficial advantages for investors. The increasing attractiveness of Nigeria's investment climate and the growing confidence in the economy has been created largely by the economic reform agenda implemented since the return to democracy in 1999."
"The reforms which have continued to be strengthened till the present time, introduced transparency, accountability and liberal free-market principles to the way business is conducted. The private sector has been recognized as the engine of growth for the economy and has been stimulated for increased participation, so that the objective of economic development and progress can be realized," Jimba added.
In recent times, focus has been directed at diversifying the economy with attention being paid to non oil exports and agriculture. Opportunities currently exist for the exploitation and export of natural gas, bitumen, limestone, coal, tin, columbite, gold, silver, clay, and iron ore, among others, according to him.
Nigerian economy is based on the mining industry and the export of oil is the main source of national income. Nigeria imports mainly machinery, chemicals, means of transport, industrial goods and food. The companies exporting their products to Nigeria include among others Czech, Chemical Plant "Police", Tele-Fonika Kable, Fibris, Lotos Group, ABB, Ursus.
According to the data provided by the Ministry of Economy, Polish export to Nigeria increased from $88.7 million in 2011 to $95.9 million in 2012.Trade turnover also raised, from $111.9 million in 2011 to $114 million in 2012 similarly as balance - from $65.5 million in 2011 to $77.3 million in 2012.
The Polish Deputy Minister for Economy, Andrzej Dycha has expressed worry about the current $100 million trade volume between his country and Nigeria as at 2013, and pledged to assist in improving it. Some of the areas where Poland will increase its trade volume, according to Dycha, are power, oil and gas, agriculture, shipping, among others.
"I am in Nigeria to seek ways of improving on Polish trade volume with this country. Regrettably, we were able to secure just $100 million trade volume with Nigeria last year, but we are doing everything possible to improve on it. That is why we are here to seek ways to improve on the trade volume. Already, some Polish businessmen have started doing business in the country and we are going to invest in energy, oil and gas, agriculture, shipping, and other areas of business interest," he pointed out.
Nigerian market is of interest for Polish companies in the mining, energy and telematics industries (projects connected with the construction of coal mines and coal-fired power plants, power lines, renovations of existing power plants, use of biomass and biofuels, oil recovery). A multimillion investment made by the Neconde Consortium, whose shareholder since 2011 has been Kulczyk Investment, confirms attractiveness of the Nigerian market to Polish companies.
Poland is the third largest producer of fertilizer in Europe and net producer of agro-machinery and pesticides from which Nigeria can benefit immensely. Polish and Nigeria private sectors are also be encouraged to engage in joint venture schemes in Nigeria's agriculture, an area that has limitless potentials in terms of raw materials like, cocoa, palm oil, groundnuts, bean seeds, cotton and tropical fruits which Poland needs for its factories.
It is noteworthy that Polish authorities are indicating willingness to cooperate with our Ministry of Science and Technology on facilitating the establishment of science and technology incubation parks in Nigeria. These parks, when established, are to become the main hub for technological inventions, development and manufacture, for the Nigerian and African regional markets. It would be mutually beneficial to Poland and Nigeria.
In addition, Poland has been pushing for maritime opportunities for investors, especially in the ongoing development of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency's (NIMASA) shipyard and dockyard facility. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that President Goodluck Jonathan performed the groundbreaking ceremony of the dockyard and shipyard and inauguration of Nigeria Maritime University in May.
Poland would cooperate with Nigeria in developing the shipyard and other maritime facilities in the country. Poland has some expertise and technical know-how on railway development and planning of transportation network and infrastructure. "We have good platform for ventures; we have good offers for infrastructure development and can offer soft loan at below one per cent interest, to finance the development of maritime academy," the Polish diplomat said.
Further steps have been taken to upgrade political consultations. "The start of a strategic dialogue between Poland and Nigeria is an important step on the path toward expanding Poland's activity in Africa," said MFA Undersecretary of State Katarzyna Kacperczyk at a meeting with Nigeria's Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Uhomoibhi on 4 July 2014.
In an official statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the global and regional security, Nigeria's domestic situation, and prospective development of Poland-Nigeria economic cooperation were high on the meeting's agenda. The meeting also focused on current political relations between Poland and Nigeria, including the outcome of the EU-Africa summit, which took place in Brussels on 2-3 April. Cooperation between the two countries' defense sectors, as well as Poland-Nigeria research and cultural cooperation were also discussed.
Economic issues and the increasing presence of Polish companies in Nigeria were some of the other major topics raised during the meeting. Minister Kacperczyk recalled that Nigeria had been the first country to host Prime Minister Donald Tusk before the launching of the Polish government's Go Africa programme, aimed at promoting Polish companies' activity in African markets.
The second edition of the Poland-Africa Congress (to be attended by high-level government representatives, entrepreneurs, investors, academics, cultural activists and non-government organisations from both sides) is scheduled to take place in Lodz this November 2014. It will provide another occasion to deepen relations between the two countries' business sectors. The consultations were first organised under an agreement establishing cooperation between Poland's and Nigeria's foreign ministries, signed in Abuja in July 2012. Further development of relations is planned thanks to the new strategic dialogue mechanism.
Both countries have, notably, had warm and cordial relations dating back to 1960 when they established diplomatic relations. In 1962, Nigeria and Poland signed the first trade agreement. In theory of foreign policy objectives, Nigeria and Poland relations have been marked by mutual cooperation and support for each other in the international fora. On its part, Poland regards Nigeria as one of its most important partners in Africa, south of the Sahara. (Source: Buziness Africa)
By Kester Kenn Klomegah in Warsaw, Poland