Seventeen months after the Egyptian government lamented its disadvantaged trade position with Nigeria, both countries have begun a process of collaboration in mining.
To this end, Egypt Petroleum Minister, Tarek el Molla, recently held a meeting with Nigerian Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Uchechukwu Ogah, to discuss means of boosting bilateral cooperation.
The meeting took up projects designed for joint action with the aim to best benefit from riches of both countries in light of promising investment opportunities.
Amendments to the mining law have sure helped create an investment-friendly climate, the minister said, noting that a recent global gold bidding has been welcomed by mining companies based on the new system.
Delegations from the Egyptian mining sector have taken part in international gatherings with the aim to promote business opportunities in Egypt in this domain, Molla added
He made it clear that his ministry is adopting a strategy meant to achieve optimal economic gains from Egypt’s mining riches and achieve value added.
This is done through using mining materials in transformative industries, which bring in big revenues, the minister noted. The two ministers agreed to hold a meeting of mining officials in both countries to outline an initiative for joint action based on common benefits.
Ogah said Nigeria was currently working on amending its own mining law in order to achieve maximum economic gains from riches.
Egyptian companies had shared their know-how in different fields with African states during Egypt’s presidency of the African Union, Ogah added.
He praised the advanced working system applied in Egyptian companies, voicing desire to benefit from their expertise in the fields of energy, mining and infrastructure.
New Telegraph recalled that last year, the Egyptian ambassador-designate to Nigeria, Mr Assem Hanafi, had expressed concern over the low trade volume between his country and Nigeria, stressing the need to aggressively improve the situation.
Hanafi said this when he paid a courtesy visit on the President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Tony Ejinkeoyen.
The envoy, who expressed his country’s willingness to increase the volume and value of trade with Nigeria, said there was the need to explore huge potentials in both countries.
He said: “My target is to see ways and means to boost trade and investment between Nigeria and Egypt, two biggest countries in Africa with huge potentials and population.
“The volume of trade between Nigeria and Egypt is not very big and this is another sad story of intra-African trade relations. That is why I am here to promote our trade relations.
“The intra-African trade only constitutes 15 percent of the overall African trade with outside.
“So we are eager to multiply the current volume which approximately is $100m plus, it is not something really reflecting the potentials of the markets of both countries.”
He attributed the problem of low trade volume between the two countries to the culture and tradition of African countries not importing from within Africa but from Europe and America.
He said: “So we need to see the comparative advantage which African countries can offer to one another and fill this gap.
“Once we succeed I think it will encourage other countries to follow suit though it may take time; we have a long way to go but it will yield the desired fruits.”
The envoy said Nigeria and Egypt had excellent political relations, sports, culture but the segment that needed further strengthening was the economic relations.
Hanafi stressed the need to reflect the strength and potentials of both countries and see which export could be of help to both countries’ markets.
“The next thing is to see investors from both countries to have opportunities to invest and increase their investment in both countries; I am sure it will be a rewarding venture,” he said.
According to him, there is also need to encourage companies of both countries to do business together and to see which part could be developed further.
Hanafi, who said Egyptian companies were thriving in Nigeria especially in infrastructure development, said Egypt was considering further investment in power, pharmaceutical, and engineering sectors
He said Egypt was also considering exportation of light vehicles, medical supplies, manufacturing products to Nigeria.
The envoy said there was market for Nigerian products such as ginger, sugarcane and other agricultural products.