Islamabad, PAKISTAN – Nigeria’s Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga disclosed on Thursday at the sideline of the Eight Developing Nations (D8) in Islamabad, Pakistan, that Pakistani authorities have agreed to collaborate with Nigeria as regards sugar production, textile manufacturing and the financing of SMEs.
The agreement, he said, was reached during a meeting he had with his Pakistani counterpart, Munir Qureshi; and Deputy Governor of the country’s Central Bank, Kazi Muktadir, earlier in the day. Aganga stated that the meeting agreed that a trade delegation from Pakistan should visit Nigeria in December to facilitate the partnership between the two countries.
“There are four areas we have agreed to work together. One area is the financing of SMEs. They have a system here; they use mobile phones and it has worked well and where they share risk and profit with SMEs in the country. It has been found to be successful in some areas,” the Minister said.
“We are looking at how that can be applied to Nigeria quickly because we have a very big SME sector. That is the sector that drives economic growth and job creation.”
He added that “The other area of collaboration is sugar. Recently, we approved the government policy on sugar. Pakistanis are exporters of sugar and it is sugarcane to sugar, the kind we are trying to encourage. As of today, we only produce two per cent of the sugar we consume in the country. Ninety-eight per cent is brown sugar that we import into the country and refine.
“The approach is going to be, going forward is sugarcane to sugar which actually creates a lot of jobs. They are doing it and in fact they actually manufactured their sugar mills being used in this country. 98 per cent of their sugar mills in this country were manufactured locally, so we are going to collaborate in that sector, having joint venture with the major players with investors in Pakistan,’’ he said
According to Aganga, another area that the Pakistanis have been extremely successful is textile, which accounts for about 78 percent of the country’s export. He noted that the sector was once a big employer of labour in Nigeria. We have made some improvements in the last two years from about 25 percent to 48 percent in terms of capacity.
“We want to develop our textile sector right from cotton to fashion design and they have done that extremely well in Pakistan.”
“This is an area we want to collaborate with them and have joint venture,’’ he said.
Apart from all these, Nigeria, a country of about 167 million is seeking to sign air services and banking deals with Pakistan.
Aganga is part of the team led by President Goodluck Jonathan to the summit. The D8 summit brings together Egypt, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Turkey, as well as Nigeria and Pakistan.