India and Nigeria enjoy warm, friendly and deep-rooted bilateral relations. India, with a population of 1.25 billion, and Nigeria, over 180 million, are large developing and democratic countries with multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual societies. India as the largest democracy in the world and Nigeria as the largest in Africa, become natural partners.
The struggle against colonialism and apartheid in the formative years after independence of the two countries laid strong foundation for the engagement of the two countries. India and Nigeria are playing an important role in the South-South Cooperation. In the multilateral organisations particularly United Nations, G77 and NAM, both countries have been articulating the voice of the developing world in a coordinated and effective manner.
Starting from November 2018 marks a momentous period in India-Nigeria relations as it ushers in sixty years of diplomatic engagement between the two countries. India established its Diplomatic House Mission in Lagos in November 1958, two years before Nigeria became independent in 1960. Political contacts at the highest level were maintained during the last 60 years.
The presence of a large Indian expatriate community of about 50,000 the largest in West Africa adds value to the importance of the long-standing relationship between the two countries.
India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s landmark visit to Nigeria in September 1962 and his interaction with Nigeria’s first Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa had created mutual goodwill, respect and friendship between the two countries and leaders. Two Nigerian Presidents visited India as the Chief Guests at India’s Republic Day i.e. in 1983 by President Shehu Shagari and in 2000 at India’s 50th Republic Day celebrations by President Olusegun Obasanjo. Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Abuja in December 2003 to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit.
Nigerian leadership regularly visited India –with President Obasanjo in November 2004, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan (who later served as President from 2011-2015) in November 2007 and also to the first India-Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi in April 2008. During the historic State visit to Nigeria by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in October 2007, India and Nigeria adopted the Abuja Declaration for Strategic Partnership, which gave a new impetus to our bilateral ties.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari visited New Delhi in October 2015 to participate in the Third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-III) The meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President Buhari enabled the two countries to review the bilateral engagement, and to chart a path for further enhancement of the bilateral engagement. President Muhammadu Buhari was accompanied by a 121-member delegation consisting Governors of Kano State, Mr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and Delta State, Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa; National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd); besides Permanent Secretaries in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Industry, Defence, Power, Communications Technology, Agriculture, Trade & Investment.
The visit of Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari to Nigeria from 26 to 29 September 2016 and his meetings with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo provided yet another opportunity to further deepen the bilateral cooperation. Vice President Hamid Ansari led a 13-member official delegation comprising of MoS for Finance and Corporate Affairs, three MPs and senior officials. A 22-member CII-led Business delegation also accompanied the Vice President during his visit to Nigeria.
Nigeria also participated in the Founding Conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), that was held in New Delhi on 11 March 2018.
Both countries have nurtured the relationship through periodic interactions. Important bilateral visits at the level of Heads of State or Government are given in the table below.
|Nigerian Dignitary to India||Period & Event|
|President Shehu Shagari||January 1983 Chief Guest Republic Day celebrations.|
|President Gen Sani Abacha||March 1994 [to attend the G15 summit]|
|President (Gen.) OlusegunObasanjo||April 1999|
|President (Gen.) OlusegunObasanjo||State Visit to India from January 24-28, 2000 as the Chief Guest at India’s 50thRepublic Day celebrations.|
|President Gen. OlusegunObasanjo||Transit Visit to India from November 2-3, 2004|
|Vice President Goodluck Jonathan||November 5-7, 2007 for the Federalism Conference.
April 2008- led a large delegation including Delta & Bayelsa State Governors and MOS (Gas) for the India-Africa Summit in April 2008.
|President Muhammadu Buhari||October 26-30, 2015 for the Third India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi|
|Indian Dignitary to Nigeria||Period and Event|
|Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru||23-27 September, 1962: First ever State visit by Indian Prime Minister|
|Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee||December 2003; To attend Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in Abuja|
|Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh||October 14-16, 2007; Bilateral State Visit|
|Vice President Hamid Ansari||26-29 September 2016; Bilateral Official Visit|
Recent Visits at Ministerial Level:
Nigeria’s participation in the Founding Conference of the International Solar alliance (ISA) (March 2018) : A Nigerian delegation led by Mustapha Baba Shehuri. Minister of State of Power, Works and Housing of Nigeria and Mr. Ibrahim Usman Jibril, Minister of State for Environment visited India from 10-03-2018 to 14-03- 2018 to participate in the Founding Conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Solar Summit in New Delhi on 11 March 2018.
Visit of Nigeria’s Health Minister to India (March 2018 & May 2018) : Nigeria’s Health Minister Prof Isaac Adewole visited India in March 2018 to participate in the End-TB Summit and met with India’s Minister of Health & Family Welfare J.P. Nadda in New Delhi on 13 March 2018, on the sidelines of the End-TB Summit. He again visited India in May 2018 to participate in the 4th India-Africa Health Forum, which was organized as part of the Global Exhibition on Services (GES) held from 15-18 May 2018.
Visit of Nigerian Minister of Transportation to India (March 2018): Mr Chibuike Amaechi, Minister of Transportation participated in the 13th edition of CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on “India Africa Project Partnership”, held from 25- 27 March 2018 in New Delhi.
Visit of Nigerian Minister of Communications to India (February 2018) : Nigerian Minister of Communications Barr Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu visited India on 22 February 2018 and met India’s Minister of Communications Mr Manoj Sinha in New Delhi on the sidelines of International Expo of Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC).
Visit of Nigerian Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing to India (January 2018): Mr. Suleiman Hassan Zarma, Nigerian Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, visited India to attend an International workshop on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (DRI) from 15-16 January 2018 in New Delhi, at the invitation of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). He also met Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh and MoS (IC) R.K. Singh for Power and New and Renewable Energy on 16 January 2018.
Visit of Nigerian Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development to India (December 2017): Nigerian Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development Chief Audu Ogbeh visited India from 11-15 December 2017. During his visit, he held a meeting with Minister for Agriculture & Farmer's Welfare, Radha Mohan Singh. He also visited Anand (Gujarat) to study India’s experience in White Revolution.
Visit of Governor of Edo State to India (September 2017): Governor of Edo State Godwin Obaseki, accompanied by Emmanuel Usoh, Commissioner for Wealth Creation, Cooperatives and Employment; Kadiri Bashiru, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, visited India in connection with setting up of Industrial Park by the Mahindra Group in Benin city, capital of Edo state.
Visit of Governor of Ebonyi state to India (March 2017): Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. (Chief) David Nweze Umahi accompanied by several senior state officials visited India to participate in CII-Conclave being held in New Delhi from 9-10 March 2017.
Foreign Office Consultations (FOC): The first round of India-Nigeria Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) was held in Abuja in December 2003 on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Summit.
Joint Commission Meeting (JCM): The Joint Commission was set up between the two countries in 1979. The First meeting was held in 1981. The second meeting was in August 1989 in New Delhi. The third Joint Commission mechanism between India and Nigeria was held when EAM Shri Jaswant Singh visited Nigeria. The fourth meeting was held in New Delhi in October 2003. The fifth meeting was held in New Delhi in March 2011. The next JCM is expected to be held soon.
Joint Trade Committee (JTC): India and Nigeria have agreed in 2017 to establish a Joint Trade Committee (JTC) at the level of Commerce Secretary from Indian side and Permanent Secretary (Trade) from Nigerian side to review he ongoing bilateral trade and commercial relations. The Nigerian Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment is expected to visit India for the first JTC meeting, which is expected to take place in last quarter of 2018.
The Defence Cooperation between the Armed Forces of India and Nigeria has been nurtured over a period of time and military interactions began right earnest after Nigeria’s independence in 1960. India helped set up various military institutions including the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) at Kaduna, the Naval College at Port Harcourt besides other elite military training establishments in Nigeria. Several Nigerian officers have also been trained over the years in Indian military institutions. These include former Nigerian Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida and several other top military officers. The incumbent President Muhammudu Buhari also attended the prestigious Defence Services Staff Course (DSSC) at Wellington in 1970s.
After signing of a bilateral MoU on Defence Cooperation in October 2007, visits at high-level took place and bilateral interaction for defence cooperation has increased over the years. The Armed forces of both the nations have attended military training together, exchange programmes and served in UN Peace Keeping Operations. These exchanges have assisted in strengthening cooperation not only within the Armed forces but also between both the countries. Defence Cooperation is an integral to the strategic partnership between India and Nigeria.
Among the areas of cooperation include counter terrorism and counter intelligence (CT/CI), sea piracy and exchange of visits between training institutes. The first meeting of the Joint Defence Coordination Committee (JDCC) was held in New Delhi in April 2013. The fourth JDCC meeting was held in Abuja in November 2017. The JDCC explore avenues to enhance the bilateral Defence Cooperation.
Trade and Investment Relations
India is the largest trading partner of Nigeria and Nigeria is India’s largest trading partner in Africa with the bilateral trade touching US $ 11.76 billion in the 2017-18. Indian owned/operated companies are the 2nd largest employer in Nigeria after the Federal Republic of Nigeria. More than 135 Indian companies are currently operating in Nigeria in diverse fields such as pharmaceuticals, engineering goods, electrical machinery and equipment, plastics, chemicals, etc. Some of the major companies include Bharti Airtel, Tata, Bajaj Auto, Birla Group, Kirloskar, Mahindra, Ashok Leyland, Skipper, Godrej, Simba Group, NIIT, Aptech, New India Assurance, Bhushan Steel, KEC, Dabur, etc.
The bilateral trade during the year 2017-18 registered US$11.76 billion as against US$ 9.42 billion recorded during the year 2016-17, thus showing an increase of 25% in 2017-18 compared to the previous year. India’s exports to Nigeria during the year increased to US$2.26 billion compared to US$ 1.76 billion in 2016-17. India’s imports from Nigeria in 2017-18 increased to US $ 9.5 billion from US$ 7.66 billion in 2016-17. Crude and petroleum products accounted for a major share of India’s imports from Nigeria. India is the largest importer of Nigeria’s Crude Oil. Nigeria has emerged as the fourth largest supplier of crude oil and second largest supplier of LNG in 2017.
India-Nigeria Bilateral Trade Statistics
Value in US $ million
India ’s Export
India ’s Import
Recent Business Events of Interest
Nigeria Chapter of ASSOCHAM launched (June 2016): Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade & Investment Okechukwu E. Enelamah, President of ASSOCHAM and High Commissioner, jointly launched the Nigeria Chapter of ASSOCHAM in Abuja on June 28, 2016.
Auto Components Show (July 2016): The Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA) in association with the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and the High Commission of India organized ACMA Auto Show and Buyer-Seller meet in Lagos on July 18-19 2016 with an objective to showcasing the growing capabilities and products of the Indian Auto Component Industry.
India-Nigeria Business Forum (September 2016): India’s Vice President Hamid Ansari and Nigeria’s Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo jointly launched the India-Nigeria Business Forum on 27 September in Abuja. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) led a 22-member Indian business delegation to the event. Among the partners of this event include Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Nigerian National Chamber of Commerce (NACCIMA) together with ASSOCHAM India-Nigeria Business Council.
The 6th Indian Products and Services Exhibition at Lagos (March 2017): High Commission Office in Lagos organized the 6th Indian Products and Services Exhibition (IPASE) in Lagos on 23-24 March 2017. Mr. Muda Yusuf, Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry was the chief guest at the inauguration ceremony, which was attended by over 150 people.
Indo-Africa ICT Expo 2017, Lagos (September 2017): The 3rd Edition of Indo-Africa ICT Expo 2017 was held in Lagos with the participation of 50 Indian ICT companies and organized by Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC) of India and NASSCOM. Nigerian Minister of Communications, Barrister Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu was the Chief Guest at the event. Other Ministerial delegates from Africa countries included Vincent Sowah Odotel, Deputy Minister of Communications Republic of Ghana and Getachew Negash Tekla, State Minister of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Government of Ethiopia. 3000 delegates from across Africa attended the two-day event. India’s Minister of State for Communications (Independent Charge) Manoj Sinha addressed the event through a video link.
Business event on Agriculture & Allied Activities (December 2017) : As part of Indian High Commission’s business outreach activities, a business event was organised on 5 December 2017 in Abuja, focussing on cooperation in agriculture and allied sectors between India and Nigeria. This event was organised in collaboration with the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, ASSOCHAM’s Nigeria Chapter and Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA). Indian companies and experts active in agriculture-related activities in Nigeria shared their experiences. The Chambers of Commerce of the various State Governments, other agencies and organisations from the Nigerian side such as Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), various trade and agriculture-related associations and representatives of farmers associations were also invited. Exim Bank of India was represented by the Managing Director from India.
PHARMEXCIL Business Meet (February 2018): The Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council of India (PHARMEXCIL), in cooperation with the High Commission of India and the Association of Pharmaceutical importers of Nigeria and Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria organized a Business Meet on 22-23 February 2018 in Lagos. A senior representative from Nigerian Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) attended the inaugural event. The event was attended by more than 250 representatives of Pharma Companies including Indian Pharma companies based in Nigeria.
Source India- Nigeria (March 2018): Chemical & Allied Export Promotion Council (CAPEXIL) and Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI) in association organized ‘Source India’ – Buyer Seller Meet from March 27-29, 2018 in Lagos, Nigeria. This event was organized under the auspices of the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India. Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and ASSOCHAM’s Nigeria Chapter partnered in holding of the event. About 110 reputed Indian entities representing various sectors such as Rubber, Plastics, Paper, Book, IT, Chemicals, Pants, Printing Ink, Glass, Ceramics, Auto parts, Engineering, F&B, etc., showcased their products and services at the event with an objective to find right Nigerian partners for collaboration in trade, investment and joint venture opportunities.
4th Edition of Indo-Africa ICT Expo 2018 (May 2018): Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC) of India along with High Commission of India, Abuja and the Ministry of Communications of Federal Republic of Nigeria hosted the 4th Edition of Indo-Africa ICT Expo 2018 in conjunction with IT and Telecom Summit, on 22-23 May 2018 in Lagos. The third edition of the event took place in Lagos from September 6-7, 2017. About fifty (50) Indian ICT companies and eight Nigerian companies participated with more than 1400 visitors and 90 delegates from India. India’s Minister of State for Communications (Independent Charge) Manoj Sinha addressed the event through a video link.
Business event on Solar and other Renewable Energy Sources (June 2018) : As a follow-up to the Founding Conference of the International Solar Alliance and the Solar Summit that was held in New Delhi in march 2018, High Commission of India organized a business event on “Nigeria-India Cooperation in Solar & Other Renewable Energy Sources – Opportunities and Way Forward” in association with Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Abuja Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ACCI) on 21 June, 2018 in Abuja. The event was also attended by representatives of Minister of Power, Works & Housing, Minister of Environment and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister. The Governor of Cross River State and representatives from Kaduna State had also attended the event. Senior representatives of Indian Renewable Energy Development Authority (IREDA), EXIM Bank, BHEL and Avada Group visited from India to participate in the event. Several senior representatives of Indian companies based in Nigeria such as Skipper Siel, Simba Group, etc. operating in renewable energy sector participated in the event.
Participation of Indian companies in various events organised in Nigeria: Indian High Commission also attended and also facilitated the participation of Indian Companies in various business events held in Nigeria such as the (i) Kaduna International Trade Fair (24 Feb – 5 March 2017); (ii) Nigeria Pharma Manufacturer’s Expo, Lagos (From 30 Aug- 1 September, 2017); (iii) Power Nigeria Exhibition, Lagos (5 September,2017); (iv) 12th Abuja Trade Fair, Abuja. (21 September – 7 Oct 2017) (iv) Future Energy Nigeria WAPIC Conference & Expo (7-8 November, 2017); (v) 39th Kaduna International Trade Fair (23 February – 03 March 18)
India is emerging as a development partner of Nigeria in two fronts –by offering developmental assistance through concessional loans and by offering capacity building training programmes.
Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC): Since 1964, India has been supporting Nigeria’s efforts in capacity building under Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme. India offered about 500 civilian and defence training slots under ITEC to Nigeria during 2017-18.
Training Programme under the third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-III): Consequent to the third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-III) that was held in New Delhi in October 2015, India has been offering additional training programmes to Nigeria in diverse subjects ranging from agriculture, health, hydropower, water resources, etc.. In the year 2017-18, 115 Nigerians have been trained under IAFS-III Programmes in premier Indian institutions.
ICCR Africa Scholarship Scheme: In the year 2017-18, the Indian Council of Cultural relations ICCR offered 28 scholarships under the “ICCR Africa Scholarship Scheme” for Nigerian nationals to pursue under-graduate, post-graduate and higher coursesin India.
C.V.Raman International Fellowships: In the year 2017-18, 12 Nigerians have availed the C.V.Raman International Fellowships offered by Government of India in doctoral and post-doctoral research training.
Interaction between the Think Tanks
Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), which have a MoU for cooperation and collaboration signed in 2007, jointly organized the second India-Africa Academic Conference at Lagos in March 2012. The event was attended by 80 academics, along with an eight member ICWA delegation led by its Director General Shri S.T. Devare. The third conference is expected to be held in Nigeria in the second half of 2018.
India has been a destination for Nigerian students for pursuing higher education since 1955. Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR)’s instituted scholarship programme, which is fully funded by it, became the main vehicle for Nigerian students to study in India since 1960s. The Indian educational institutions system became popular for its quality and cost-effective education. Large number of Nigerian students are studying in various Indian universities. The Government of India launched earlier this year ‘Study in India’ portal, which will give a further fillip to interested and deserving Nigerian students to join renowned and recognized Indian educational institutions.
NRI/PIO Community: The Indian community in Nigeria is estimated to be about 50,000 persons, including Indian nationals and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card holders. A generation of Nigerians today in their forties to sixties have been taught by Indian teachers, treated by Indian doctors and have grown watching Indian movies. There is a CBSE affiliated Indian Language School in Lagos with about 2,000 students. Indian Cultural Associations (ICAs) are present in prominent cities of Nigeria including Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Ibadan.
Visit of ICCR Cultural Troupes:
Namaste! Nigeria: Namaste! Nigeria Event was celebrated on 05 May 2018 by the Indian High Commission in association with Indian Cultural Association (ICA), Abuja and Indian Women’s Association, Abuja to celebrate the diversity and richness of Indian culture. Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, Director General, Nigerian National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) and Princess Ginika Nwafor-Orizu, Chief Cultural Officer, were the Chief Guests at the event. Around 700 people attended the event, mainly Nigerians, diplomatic corps and Indian community. A Fashion Show to demonstrate the costumes of 21 Indian States, traditional dance performances of seven Indian States were presented by IWA and ICA respectively. The Nigerian NCAC presented the Unity Dance symbolizing the unity in diversity aspect of Nigeria.
High Commission of India in association with various Indian cultural associations in Nigeria also organizes events to celebrate International Day of Yoga, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, World Hindi Day, Gandhi Jayanthi, Birthday of Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Swatchata Diwas, International Women’s day, B.R. Ambedkar Jayanthi etc. Indian Associaitons also separately organize events to celebrate Indian festivals such as Holi and Diwali in different cities of Nigeria.
Yoga Photo Exhibition: The first-ever Yoga Photo Exhibition was held as part of the celebration of the 4th International Day of Yoga (IDY 2018) at the High Commission of India, Abuja (Nigeria) during 18-24 June 2018. On display were photographs from renowned photographer Benoy K. Behl and an Indian artist and photographer Shanta Roy.
Cultural Outreach: Under the Cultural Outreach programme of the Mission, All India Universities Alumni Association (AIUAA) of Nigeria organized a one-day workshop on 16 May, in Abuja. Indian Universities Alumni Association (IUAA), Aba Area Chapter, Abia State also organized a one-day workshop entitled ‘Symposium & Cultural Fiesta’ on 12 May 2018 in Aba, Abia State. IUAA is a State Chapter of the All India Universities Alumni Associations based in Abuja and consists of Nigerian nationals who have studied in India some of whom have occupied and continue to occupy important positions in Federal and State Governments and other organizations of Nigeria.
Outreach Activities with Nigerian Schools: Under the outreach activities of the High Commission of India, over 150 students from Gratem Montessori Schools, Progress Dynamic International Academy, Merosa Academy, Nile University of Nigeria and Brainyville International School, Abuja were received during March-May 2018.
Mosaic Art work: A nearly permanent exhibit in form of Mosaic Art Work depicting India’s journey during 70 years of independence was inaugurated at the Chancery complex in Abuja on the occasion of National Day Reception on 26 January 2018. The Mosaic Artwork is showcasing India’s rich cultural heritage and also industrial development and economic progress since Independence. It succinctly depicted India’s transition from the pristine and abundant nature to development and urbanisation, with both coexisting. With 500,000 pieces of tiles, it accurately depicted the scale and diversity of India and its journey since Independence. For those who have not had the opportunity of visiting India, the mural is providing an opportunity to view India in a snapshot.