Nigeria invites Indian business with new visa policy

New Delhi, June 7 (IANS) A Nigerian official Friday asked the Indian industry to take advantage of the country's new visa policy, aimed at attracting global investors and tourists.

"The Nigerian government has recently approved a new visa policy, which is intended to ease the entry into the country of strategic visitors, especially investors and tourists, who have much to contribute to the national economy," Babatunde Lawal, director, macroeconomics department at the National Planning Commission of Nigeria said at an India-Africa Business Series event organised by industry body FICCI.

"It is my expectation that this year's forum will provide further opportunity fo deepening the participation of Indians in Nigeria's economic development process and vice versa," Lawal said.

He said as per the Nigeria's "Vision 20:2020" document, the country seeks to diversify the economy and aims to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI) into sectors other than oil.

"Energy is a sector where India is increasingly looking westwards, towards Africa. Indian giants like ONGC Videsh, Oil India, are proactive in the oil and gas sector. A large proportion of India's energy needs are imported from Africa. In turn, India is looking into the development of downstream activities and adds value to the African exports," Lawal said.

According to the Nigerian planner, India's mining companies like Vendanta, Tata and the state-owned NMDC have made headway into Africa.

Nigeria is India's largest trading partner in Africa. India is also the second largest trading partner for Nigeria, with bilateral trade touching $17 billion in 2011-12.

Another Nigerian delegation composed of civil and military officials is currently on a study tour of India to understand how the Indian economy has grown and democratic governance has made fruits of the growth available to the people.

The first India-Africa Business Series, which had the theme 'Securing Energy for Emerging Markets: The Africa-Asia Experience', concluded with a networking session between companies in the oil and gas sector of both countries.

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