The was fundamentally economic and started with textiles

The convolution, opportunity and strength of global challenges in various areas like education, research, health concerns, business and more demand international collaboration. The partnership between developing countries can be an operative strategy for undertaking commonly shared issues. In current years, government agencies and foundations have enormously amplified economic and human resources for international collaborative schemes, especially for research and education. The social, scientific, industrial and executive dynamics of these collaborations must be associated to successfully address challenges resulting from resource, capacity and power differences in the communication of multiple organizational and national cultures.


The manifestation of India in Nigeria was fundamentally economic and started with textiles and trading sectors, but later got continually expanded in other areas. Nigeria is the largest trading partner of India in the African continent while India is the largest importer of Nigeria petroleum products. Indian companies have ample reserves in power transmission lines, textiles, electrical equipment, chemicals, pharmaceuticals etc.


The bilateral relations between the Republic of India and the Federal Republic of Nigeria have traditionally been warm and friendly which have considerably expanded in recent years with both nations building strategic and commercial ties.  The total Indian community in Nigeria is estimated to be around 40,000 person majority of them live in Lagos while the number of Nigerians living and working in India is estimated to be around 50,000. The consensual relationship between India and Nigeria was established long back starting with the trade relationships. As the formal diplomatic relationship between the two countries emerged in 1960, a lot of investment was made in different sectors. Indian businessmen took advantage of sea transport to travel to Nigeria during the early part of the twentieth century. Among the early entrants were the Sindhi traders who reached Lagos in 1919, while the Kishinchand Chellaram Group established its business successfully in Nigeria in 1923. The enormous success encountered by these businessmen invigorated and concreted the way for others to follow the suit. Since the restoration of democracy in 1998, Nigeria has joined India in becoming the largest democracies in their respective regions with diverse religious and ethnic populations.


After Nigeria’s independence, both nations sought to develop strong relations. The leaders from both the nations have paid visits for consolidating the links between the two countries. In 1962, the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru made a state visit to Nigeria which was followed by the state visit of democratically elected President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo to India. He also honoured India’s Republic Day celebrations by being the Chief Guest. Later Shri Jaswant Singh, EAM to Nigeria visited in March 2000 to co-chair the Third Session of India-Nigeria Joint Commission. In May 2003, the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry visited Lagos to Chair the Conference of Commercial Representatives of Western Sub-Saharan Africa. The Nigerian Foreign Minister, Mr Oluyemi Adeniji, visited India from October 28-30, 2003 to co-chair the Fourth Session of the Joint Commission.  Former Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, visited Nigeria in December 2003 to participate in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Former President Obasanjo paid a working visit to New Delhi on November 3, 2004, where he had rigorous discussions with the Indian Prime Minister to strengthen cooperation in various sectors; predominantly the hydrocarbon sector.

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In 2007, Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit marked 50 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Nigeria where he addressed a joint session of the Parliament of Nigeria. During this visit, a partnership was allotted to enhance the bilateral cognations to a much higher calibre while laying out the forthcoming outlines of the bilateral cognations. Also, a line of credit of US$ 100 million was promulgated to be consumed in agronomy, agro-processing and substructure cognate plans. Nigerian side with the concurrence of Indian side decided to utilize the credit for power sector projects in three States: (i) Enugu US$ 40 million, (ii) Cross Rivers- US$30 million and Kaduna – US$30 million. The then Vice President Dr Goodluck Jonathan along with his delegations paid few visits to India including a major one in November 2007 for the ‘India-Africa Hydrocarbon Summit’ to encourage Indian investors to capitalize in Nigerian sectors. Further collaborating the interests of the two giants, Shri Anand Sharma, Commerce Minister, visited Lagos, Nigeria with a large FICCI delegation of 120 members followed by the visit of Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Murli Deora. Thereafter, Mr Olusegun Aganga, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment led a business delegation to India in 2014.


Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari along with many dignitaries visited New Delhi, India for the India-Africa Summit-III in September 2015 where he met with Hon’ble Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. President Buhari commended that India has overtaken the United States of America in terms of importation of crude oil and now ranks first as the biggest importers of crude oil from Nigeria.  Group Executive Director (Finance) from Nigerian National Petroleum Commission, Mr Isiaka Abdulrazzak participated in the India-Africa Hydrocarbon Conference held in 2016. Also, Trade and Investment Minister Dr Okechukwu Enelamah participated in the 11th CII EXIM Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership in March 2016 where a requirement for profound bilateral collaboration for maintainable expansion was also stressed. 


The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry, a national Apex Chamber (ASSOCHAM) started its Nigeria Chapter ‘India-Nigeria Business Promotion Council’ at Hotel Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, Nigeria in June 2016 which was propelled by Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister for Industry, Trade & Investment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 


Since the refurbishment of democracy in Nigeria in 1998-99, its trade with India has increased substantially – climbing from USD 293.71 million in 1999-00 to USD 875 million in 2005-06. As of 2007, the value of non-oil bilateral trade was estimated between USD 6-7.9 billion which raised to approximately USD12 billion in 2016. Indian companies have invested profoundly in Nigeria in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, plastics, engineering, information technology and communications as well as in the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Industry and Aladja Steel Complex in Delta. Nigeria has actively encouraged Indian companies to invest and expand Nigeria’s mining and development of coal, gold, iron ore, chrome ore, lead and other mineral resources. Nigeria is the largest African crude oil supplier to India — India imports 400,000 barrels per day from Nigeria valued at US$10 billion annually. Additionally, major Indian oil companies regularly issue tender of Nigerian crude oil.



Inauguration of ASSOCHAM India-Nigeria Business Forum (Nigeria Chapter) by Hon. Enyinnaya Okechukwu Enelema, Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Federal Government of Nigeria and His Excellency, The High Commissioner of India to Nigeria on June 28, 2016 in Abuja, Nigeria

More than 100 companies, including some huge Indian set ups, are currently operating in Nigeria owing to the enormous market scope. Some of the prominent names are Birla Cement ( in the name of New Chline), Stallion Group, PARCO Indian Group, Anand Dairy Farming, NIPCO, African Industries Group, Shapoorji Pallonji, Jawa International Limited, Godrej Nigeria Limited, Srei Infrastructure,  Dabur, Bharti Airtel, Tata, Bajaj Auto, New India Assurance, Kewalram Group, Bhojwani Brothers Nig. Ltd., Bhoj sons & Co. Nig.Plc, Essar Group, State Bank of India (in form of 8.6% share in Sterling Bank), Skipper T Corp, Ranbaxy, Churchgate Group, Enkay Indo-Nigeria Ltd., Dr. Hassan’s Hospital, Pearl International, Primus Super-speciality Hospital, Vedic Life Healthcare, NIIT Nigeria Ltd., APTECH Software Technology Park Ltd., etc.


In power division, close to 15 Indian companies are engaged in Nigeria’s power sector as Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) contractors while in the telecommunication sector, Airtel enjoys a market share of approx. 24% and has around 32.2 million subscribers. Some noticeable PIO groups are Chanrai group, Dana, Chellarams, Keshwanis and Mehtanis’ Churchgate Group, DUFIL Prime Food Ltd., Indorama, Olam Nigeria Ltd etc. The healthcare zone is also not left behind with a continuously blooming medical tourism with an average of 15000 medical visas issued per year to Nigerians to avail the contemporary medical services offered by Indian hospitals at a very affordable cost as compared to other countries. Apollo Hospitals in operative management services corporation with healthcare group Hygeia; Dr Hassan’s Hospital inaugurated by the then Indian Minister of State for Corporate Affairs Shri Salman Khursheed and Primus Super Speciality Hospital are some of the renowned names in the business. Indian pharmaceuticals source more than a third of total demand of the Nigerian market, in both retail and bulk forms. Some conspicuous companies involved are Ranbaxy, Cadila, Emcure etc under the association Indian Pharmaceuticals’ Manufactures and Importers in Nigeria.


India-Nigeria Business Forum organized by High Commission of India, Abuja together with CII & ASSOCHAM India-Nigeria Business Promotion at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja on September 27, 2016

Recently in 2017, Indo-Africa ICT summit designed to develop and advance African ICT ecosystem was held in Lagos which was attended by many Indian and Nigerian ICT professionals. It successfully fashioned out the future of Africa’s Information and Communication Technology industry.


Several collective projects are also running in line for further solidification of Indo-Nigerian ties. Dangote Group of Nigeria together with EIL, Fabtech, Indcon Projects, Patels Airtemp, Temasme, Phils Engg, Techno, Larsen & Toubro, Godrej, Vijay Tanks, ISGEC, Altech, Diamond Engineering, Bharat Bijlee, Thermax and Emmerson is actively involved in developing an oil refinery while together with Tata Consulting Engineers Ltd., Va Tech Wabag, Onshore Construction Company Ltd., Diamond Engineering, Larsen & Tubro, Godrej & Boyce, Emerson Process, Essar Heavy Engineering, Paharpur Cooling Towers Ltd., Virgo Valves & Controls, Oswal Industries, Isgec Heavy Engineering, Flow Service and STF Salvatore Trifone & Figli is developing a huge fertiliser project. The teachings learned from these alliances are envisioned to update institutions and researchers who are involved in multicultural and multinational networks. The findings may also be a useful orientation for policy makers and subsidy agencies for forecasting and appraising success of such collaborative projects. 


The socio-cultural ties between the two countries are also worth commendable. HCI organized first ever weeklong Indian Film Festival in Abuja from March 31 to April 06, 2014. The successful event which drew ovation from the city was inaugurated by the first lady, H.E. Mrs Dame Patience Jonathan on March 31, 2014. Also, Indian cultural troupes have entertained Nigerians in annual Abuja Carnivals in several cities. Lagos Business School has a gyrating chair arrangement with Indian Council for development of cultural relations. A number of Nigerian students going to Indian tertiary institutions is also on rising. While many Nigerians use their own funds for education, the Indian government has also provided assistance under the Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan and the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC). After the Second Africa India Forum Summit held in May 2011, the number of the fellowships available to Nigerians for technical training in India, under the ITEC programme was raised from 130 to 145. Apart from government-sponsored training Indian companies in the information technology (IT) field such as Infosys, NIIT and Aptech have trained close to 150,000 Nigerians. Alos, many Indian football clubs have Nigerian professional players.



A symposium on “Nigeria – India Cooperation in Agriculture and Allied Sectors – Opportunities and Way Forward” organized by High Commission of India, together with ASSOCHAM India-Nigeria Business Promotion (ASSOCHAM NIGERIA) and Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) on December 5, 2017

at Hilton Hotels, Abuja, Nigeria


In terms of global security, both countries share a similar view of peace and brotherhood. Both India and Nigeria support the idea of reform of global governance institutions such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation. The Indian government has facilitated with communication gears worth a million dollars to Nigerian armed forces. It has also set up IT labs in Nigerian defence colleges. Bilaterally, a MoU on defence cooperation was signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Nigeria in 2007. However military interactions can be traced back to the 1960s. India has helped set up various military institutions including the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) at Kaduna and the Command and Staff College (CSC) at Jaji in Nigeria. While India has delegated officers to train Nigerians, a number of Nigerian officers have also been trained over the years in Indian military institutions including former Nigerian presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida and several other top military officers.


In conclusion, the two countries have numerous common factors like large population, democratic political systems and diverse cultural ethnic groups as well common challenges such as terrorism, insurgency and strive for inclusive socio-economic development. Although economic and political ties between the two countries have considerably expanded in the last decade, there is significant scope for further enhancement of the relationship for the betterment of both nations.