By Lizzy Okoji
Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Oji Ngofa, says the upcoming visit of that country’s Prime Minister Mark Rutte to Nigeria, will provide an opportunity to attract more Dutch investments to the country, particularly in the manufacturing and agriculture sectors.
Ngofa told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja that Prime Minister Rutte will begin a working visit to Nigeria this week.
He said that the Prime Minister will be visiting along with a trade delegation made up of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Dutch companies already operating in Nigeria as well as prospective investors
The Nigerian ambassador said that the visit would be a follow-up to President Muhammadu Buhari’s trip to the Netherlands in July 2018.
He recalled that in 2018 both leaders had restated their commitments to strengthening bilateral relations.
Ngofa described Rutte’s visit to Nigeria as timely, noting that it was coming at a time the Nigerian government was making concerted efforts at diversifying the economy and reducing dependence on oil in line with the Economic and Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) of President Buhari.
“This visit affords us the opportunity to assess the state of our bilateral relations which I believe is very cordial and to also look at all the areas that we have agreed to partner for mutual benefits.
“Having this visit for me at this level is very gratifying. It is the best thing to happen to us as a country.
“The Dutch have a very powerful and competitive economy; they are the second largest producers of food and agricultural products in the world.
“They are advanced in innovation and technology, especially in the area of agriculture which we can leverage on, and with our involvement with them, in investment and trade, we have a lot we can benefit from them.
“We have Dutch financial institutions that are ready to offer us financial support in dealing with some of our trade and investment challenges.
“The prime minister is coming along with some very high level investors who are ready to either start investments here or upscale the investments that they already have in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Ngofa also told NAN that during the visit, the government of Niger State would sign a Memorandum of Understanding on dairy development with Royal FrieslandCampina N.V., a Dutch multinational dairy cooperative based in Amersfoort, Netherlands.
“They plan to establish their factory in Niger state. We also have Vlisco that will also establish a textile factory in Nigeria.
“All of these are to stimulate our economy, create employment for our people, leverage on their expertise in the areas of capacity building and transfer of knowledge,” he said.
He expressed confidence that the new deals and investments would help balance the trade between Nigeria and the Netherlands, which is currently one-sided, in favour of the Dutch.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for driving the Ease of Doing Business reform, which he said had seen Nigeria move up 15 places in the World Bank Doing Business Ranking for 2020.
According to the envoy, such economic reforms, among others, are having tremendous impact on foreign direct investments in Nigeria.
“They are a major contributor to the North East disaster management at the moment. They are doing a whole lot for us.
“They have the orange corner where they teach Nigerian young entrepreneurs skills on how to develop businesses of their own and that is ongoing.
“So, they are a very strong support base for our country and we are not taking that likely at all so that defines the essence of this visit at this level.
“In less than one year, we have had very high level of exchanges, our own President have been there last year, their own Minister was here in July and now, their Prime Minister is here in November.
“‘It is something that we cherish and we think that it is forward looking. It is something that will be mutually beneficial to the two countries especially for us in our quest to diversify our economy, stimulate growth, create employment, create education and move our people out of poverty,” Ngofa said. (NAN)