The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) on Monday hosted a delegation of Russian Business men in Abuja in a move to expand investment opportunities between Nigeria and the Russian Federation.

The Russian delegates were hosted at the Nigeria-Russia Business Forum (NRBF) which held at the Abuja International Trade and Convention Centre.

The president of the ACCI and Chairman of the Nigeria-Russia Business Council (NRBC) Adetokunbo Kayode Said the essence of the business forum is to reintroduce Russians to Nigerian Business , revive and deepen bilateral relations.

Kayode noted that the economic relationship on both sides has over the years been very low and faced challenges regarding trade information on each others business environment as well as accompanying elements of Ease of Doing Business (EoDB). This, according to him has created a condition of uncertainty among business partners and investors.

The ACCI president however explained that the forum  will ensure interactive business communication, signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs),  access to potential buyers, presentation of innovative products and will ultimaprovide an ideal setting for both Nigeria and Russia to improve their economies and promote consumption of locally produced products between the countries.

“There will be Business to Business (B2B) meetings to provide  the perfect opportunity to network and cultivate lasting relationship and strategic partnership,” Kayode Said.

He added, “Nigeria is very anxious to do business with the world and we believe that unless we are doing business with Russia we are not complete. Russia is a very big economy and they are interested in investing in Africa.

“President Vladimir Putin declared this year as a year of African Russian engagement, so we see this as an opportunity to bring critical companies to get them involved in serious areas of our economy, such as oil and gas, agriculture, manufacturing, in addition, abundant potentials for cooperation in areas such as hydrocarbon production and processing, nuclear power and Industry, and other areas we are lacking.

Kayode further announced that there will be a feedback forum in Moscow to follow up on agreements to be reached at the B2B meetings.

Also speaking the Nigerian Ambassador to Russia, Stephen Ugbah regretted that the total Investment Russia has in Nigeria only amounts to about $300M which according to him is very disappointing.

Ugbah blamed the poor investment on mutual misunderstanding and suspicions between both countries as well as apathy. He however expressed hope that the forum will revive the business relationship and strengthen partnership.

He said, “the Russian investment in our economy is disappointingly low, the  total Russian investment in Nigeria is less than $300M, this is something we should not accept, I refuse to accept it and that is why the delegation is here.

“In my interactions with Russian firms, entities and coming from Nigeria I know that there is mutual suspicions in both sides, there is mutual misunderstanding in both sides, lack of awareness.

“Nigerians don’t know much about Russia except that it’s far away and what the only things Russians  know about Nigeria is what they are being fed through the media. So, to focus on economic diplomacy, this first step to bring Russian companies to Nigerians.

“Also, Apathy on the part of Nigerian business and Russian Businessin terms of coming to invest or explore opportunities in Nigeria.Russians have been apprehensive about coming to do business in Nigeria.”

He added that the forum is designed to sensitize Nigerian businesses to opportunities in Russia, and expose Russian to the countless opportunities in Nigeria that russia can take advantage of and will be mutually beneficial.

” I’m hopeful that this trip will start that process or at least ignite the process of engagement with Russian companies and vice versa.

“The opportunities in Nigeria are boundless and we need to expose potential investors to these opportunities and I also want Nigerians to be sensitized to opportunities to partner and also invest in the Russian economy.” he said.

Responding, the leader of the Russian delegation, Valery Vozdvizhensky while commending the ACCI and the Nigerian Ambassador to Russia for the forum expressed hope that the forum will be a good ground for business relations.

The Forum featured different Russian and Nigerian Companies cut across different sectors to include Agriculture, oil and gas, Power, mining, logistics, construction, automobile, health, transportation, energy, security/defence, finance, electricity among others.

Godsgift Onyedinefu