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Economy

New Momentum for Russia – Nigeria Relations

Kester Kenn Klomegah

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Nigeria is considered the economic powerhouse in the West Africa region. As it is popular known, Nigeria is one of Africa’s fastest growing economies and boosts the largest population. After the change over of the presidency in May 2015, from Goodluck Jonathan to Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian diplomatic mission said it was ready to take practical steps to bolster economic and strategic ties with Russia.

Quite recently, Ibrahim Usman Gafai, Charge d’Affairs at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Moscow, said in an interview that economic relations between both countries have steadily developed during the past few years with a number of leading Russian companies establishing their presence in Nigeria.

Russian investment in Nigeria covers such areas as energy, iron and steel, and hydro carbon. Over the years, the diplomatic relationships have also witnessed the establishment of Russia-Nigeria Business Council (RNBC) which oversees economic activities between between the two countries.

So far, the two countries have held three meetings of the Joint Commission, the last being in 2009. The Joint Commission is the platform for the two countries to sit down and draw up agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on how to conduct businesses and investment in each other’s country.

Interestingly, Russia and Nigeria’s two-way trade was a modest $350 million in 2013. Authorities in both countries have repeatedly said that it should be many times larger, given that Russia is the biggest market in the former Soviet Union and Nigeria the biggest market in Africa.

“Unfortunately, trade volume between Nigeria and Russia has been comparatively low and highly skewed in favor of Russia. There is an attempt to balance the current trend through boosting economic relations between the two friendly nations,” Gafai acknowledged in the interview.

One of the strategies is to encourage trade promotion through solo exhibitions of good made in each other’s country. Nigeria businesses are encouraged to carry out such solo exhibitions in Russian cities such as Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Krasnodar and Kuzbas regions.

On the other hand, Russian businesses are also encouraged to participate in various annual trade fairs organized by different Chambers of Commerce in Nigeria. In addition, the Moscow’s Nigerian Embassy will continue to call on the two countries to create an investment forum to showcase their potentialities in each other’s territory. The major challenge facing investors from both sides of the divide is dearth of information on each other’s business environment. This has, over the years, created a condition of uncertainty and misgivings among prospective investors.

As part of the initiatives to contribute to revamping the Nigerian economy, Nigerians under the auspices of Nigerians in Diaspora Organization in Europe (NIDOE), the Russian Chapter in collaboration with Russia-Nigeria Business Council, Institute of African Studies and Russian ministries and agencies have adopted corporate strategies in identifying and wooing potential Russian businesses and industry directors to invest in Nigeria.

In another interview with Buziness Africa, Rex Essenowo, Chairman of NIDOE-Russia, talks about current opportunities and wide ranging perspectives for strengthening business partnership and the huge potential that exists for mutually economic cooperation between Russia and Nigeria.

He believes strongly that NIDOE-Russia and the Russia-Nigeria Business Council could help greatly to further develop the mutual business cooperation both in the private and public sectors between the two countries.

The key issues and questions raised were focused on trade and investment possibilities in Nigeria. What has been done and what has not been done in order to boost economic development in Nigeria, and how the relationship has benefited both countries.

A very important issue is the post-election investment climate. Nigeria is always considered as one of the most attractive investment destinations in the world before the 2015 general elections, so it is necessary to keep that environment stable in order to boost the country’s relationship with Russia.

“As already known, we are only doing our best to supplement government efforts at boosting economic development, which in turn can benefit the population. On implementation of various agreements that were signed, we could not achieve 100% results, that is the reason why we keep pushing forward to make some considerable changes,”according to the views of the Chairman.

“Most of the issues are still based on logistics, we have been able to identify other setbacks and challenges which depend much on the part of the governments of Russia and Nigeria,” Essenowo said.

At the last NIDOE-Russia workshop that took place in April 2015, the Chairman and CEO of the Business Council, Valeriy Vozdvizhenskiy, expressed high optimism about the new Nigerian administration of General Muhammadu Buhari, noting assertively that “there is a lot to do, for example, starting from implementing the numerous MoUs that were signed by the previous administration.”

But NIDOE-Russia Chairman Essenowo pointed out explicitly: “Personally, I will suggest a quick review of those key areas that can impact positively on the lives of Nigerians and on the economy of Nigeria. One important aspect is providing sufficient and required information about Nigeria for the Russian business and investors’ community as well as widening the scope cooperation in different sectors of the economy.”

Further, Essenowo said that “NIDOE-Russia wants to see different directions in the Russia-Nigerian economic cooperation. We are really tired of wasting potentials and the rate of poverty our country, despite our enormous amount of resources.”

Russia and Nigeria should not only be regional leaders or key players in world market of oil and gas, but they must become real strategic partners in economic cooperation and development.

There are millions of the educated youth and graduates unemployed, while many Russian companies need external markets and new cooperation for their technologies; the technologies are quite affordable.

There are thousands of Nigerians who were trained in the Soviet Union and in Russia now, could effectively be used as bridges. For example, Nigerians would love to see a Nigerian Ambassador who speaks Russian language to deal with strategic and development issues as well as identifying with and tapping into the fast growing vibrant Nigerian diaspora in the Russian Federation.

The face of African diplomacy is changing steadily. At least, during the past one decade, Russian-speaking African ambassadors from Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Madagascar and Zambia have been appointed to the Russian Federation. Besides, there are Russian-speaking diplomats that make for a new face of Russia-African diplomacy.

The former Nigerian Ambassador to the Russian Federation, Mr. Assam Ekanem Assam told a Nigerian press that he was determined to get Russian businesses to invest in the economy with a view to enhancing growth and explained further that Moscow was home to most dollar billionaires in the world who were looking for a safe and secured environment to invest their money.

He also told the media that Russia as a BRICS (the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) has a lot to offer Nigeria in the area of investment in agriculture and the oil and gas sector – especially now that major European countries are facing economic downturn.

As far back as in October 2013, the Russian Ambassador to Nigeria, Nikolay Udovichenko said during a business forum in Abuja that Russia was interested in developing cooperation with Nigeria in the fields of investment, energy, trade and agriculture, among others.

“We see new opportunities for Russian companies. Suffice it to say that Nigeria has all chances to become Africa’s biggest economy in the nearest future. That is why we and the Embassy of Nigeria in Moscow almost simultaneously decided to amplify efficacious bilateral cooperation,” he said.

Udovincheko noted however that Russia considered Nigeria to be a strategic partner in Africa because of its numerous opportunities in human and natural resources, and added that “Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa and it needs objective and balanced information that promotes cooperation and harmony between different groups in the country and the international community.”

With all these laudable ideas on raising economic cooperation, significant corporate projects are yet to be undertaken. But now, new hopes in Moscow and Abuja are that the countries’ annual commercial ties will rise to billions of dollars in the few coming years. Russia plans to help Nigeria explore for oil and gas. Nigeria has expressed interest in Russia, helping it build nuclear power plants, petroleum pipelines, railways and other infrastructure.

Both Russia and Nigeria have a wealth of minerals — and some could be the basis of additional commerce between the two. Nigeria’s natural resources include gold, bauxite, zinc, tantalum, niobium, iron ore and coal.

Nigeria and Russia are both “large economies” and “rich in natural resources,” Goodie Ibru, head of the Chamber of Commerce of Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, said at a bilateral economic conference in 2013, adding that “although Nigeria is smaller in terms of technology and infrastructure development, there’s a lot for both countries to benefit from.”

The Federal Government of the Republic of Nigeria has, indeed, expressed its support for any Russian genuine and legal investment. Without doubts, Nigeria remains “one of the best countries in the world to do business because of guaranteed return on investment.”

Russia has pledged to help Muhammadu Buhari to fight terrorists in Nigeria. It is selling weapons to Nigeria and training Nigerian troops in counter-terrorism. Moscow was delighted during Nigeria’s election campaign to hear Buhari say he wanted his country to forge a “special relationship” with the BRICS countries, and in particular, Russia. The other BRICS members are Brazil, India, China and South Africa.

Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and writer on African affairs in the EurAsian region and former Soviet republics. He wrote previously for African Press Agency, African Executive and Inter Press Service. Earlier, he had worked for The Moscow Times, a reputable English newspaper. Klomegah taught part-time at the Moscow Institute of Modern Journalism. He studied international journalism and mass communication, and later spent a year at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He co-authored a book “AIDS/HIV and Men: Taking Risk or Taking Responsibility” published by the London-based Panos Institute. In 2004 and again in 2009, he won the Golden Word Prize for a series of analytical articles on Russia's economic cooperation with African countries.

Economy

Democracy in the doldrums

Samudrala VK

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It is clear that during the COVID-19 pandemic  times, Democracy has gone pear shaped throughout the world. Power and Political activity are considered as alpha and omega of the modern day democracy.
The Modern state(political authority),which is based on legitimacy and a tool to deliver political, economical and social justice, has been rendering yeoman service to
corporates, both domestic and foreign. The ruling dispensations all around the globe have resorted to authoritarianism under the guise of health emergency. In addition, the topsy turvy of Democracy, through excessive centralisation and the iron curtain imposed on political activities during this pandemic, has left minimal space to raise the concerns of the urban poor. The pandemic, a bolt from the blue, has caught our health systems off guard. In India, the labour class has caught between the devil and the deep sea, thanks to the recent twin moves of the central government, privatization and the helter-skelter lockdown. The pernicious effects of the lockdown are yet to hit the masses. Seemingly, the rudderless policies of central government have created enough space to further pauperization of masses, mostly have-nots.
Now, the federal governments of third world countries have to walk on razor edge by meeting the fiscal deficit targets on one hand and by connecting the welfare dots on the other.It is not surprising to say that the big corporates are making good fortunes with the relaxation of tax rates and new labour codes. As unemployment is hanging like the sword of domacles over the working class, the corporate class would expect this surplus labour to be at their beck and call.The early warnings of intelligentsia on the consequences of disastrous lockdown  were remained as the voices crying in the wilderness. The ruling elite has been trying to enshroud the general despondency among the civic force by shifting the propaganda machinery to sensitive elements like religion, hyper nationalism and sloganeering-not to mention self aggrandizement.

Neo-liberalism and corporatisation

The diktats of the world bank and the IMF(International monetary fund) on the third world nations like pruning the subsidies, roll back of welfare measures and the abatement of labour laws as an essential sina qua non for any sort of relief package during the crisis of BOP(Balance of payments) have left labour class of the thrid world nations in quandary. The US with the support of the WTO( World Trade Organization)had exhorted all these countries to provide untrammeled access its products. Apparently, the aims and paths of federal governments of these nations ,the WTO and the IMF are congruent with regard to free trade and the globalization of capital. The lawful protections for the working class under the labour laws have proved disastrous for the interests of the capitalist class and being viewed as shackles for the exploitation. The decades-long struggle to retain these labour rights in independent nation states has been ending in smoke due to weakened trade unions and the decline of social capital. The time has come to fight tenaciously and move heaven and earth to restore their rights which are otherwise go to the dogs. When the market space is being dominated by Monopoly or Duopoly or Tripoly, the free and fair competition which the unhindered market guarantee is an absolute sham. Extolling the virtues of Neo-liberalism, the modern nation states have centred their development agenda in and around urban centres. Economically, in the post-liberal era of India, the upward mobility is largely confined to a few sections of the urban middle class.

Welfare economics

It is wrong to mention that welfare economics is based on “Rob Peter to pay paul principle” when Peter has direct access to resources(natural, political, economical and social) vis-a-vis Paul. It is not the Peter but the Paul who is running from the pillar to post in search of opportunities. The notion of political equality of liberal ideological stream revolves around freedom and liberty of an individual and overlooks the core elements of equality like social and economical justice. The central governments all over the world have successfully repudiated the pro-poor agenda and this volte face from welfare state to pro-capitalist state has pushed the labour class out of the frying pan into the fire.

Nexus between political class and biggies

The unholy nexus between the political class  and corporates has been riding roughshod over the interests of poor. This alliance behooves the political class to safeguard the vested interests of corporate bigwigs. It is apposite to mention that representative democracy has been metamorphosing into a turncoat democracy. Back in the day, Politicians were known for their erudition, statesmanship and uncompromising ideological commitment. On the contrary, present day representatives are turning into snollygosters for their personal gains. There are several voluminous reports from different corners on rising economical disparities in the post-liberal era on which no political party is keen to act upon. As Michael Jackson, king of pop, penned in one of his famous tracks “All I want to say is that they don’t really care about us”-the lyrics are still relevant in this pandemic times.

Globalization and dependency

The South Asian nations have started their LPG (Liberalisation, privatization and Globalization) path at the same time, with the exception of Sri Lanka which had opened its economy by fits and starts.They had adjusted their economical apparatus with a new global integration process at a time when the global economical architecture was dominated by unipolar power, the US.
The lopsided globalization process has been converting many third world countries as dependents and in some cases almost to a level of aid recipients upon the erstwhile colonial powers or the US. Under the banner of global integration, all these nations were dragged into this complex whole, in most of the cases through persuasion. In the name of free trade, the Western powers have been  bleeding these nations white of their resources. The asymmetrical globalization has also challenged the sovereignty of these nations while the same has remained intact in case of developed nations. The US has been playing a rigged game of globalization under the auspices of the WTO, the world bank and other agencies. The time has come for these players to bury their hatchet and rise as a one voice to have a just order at the international sphere.

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Economy

Objectives and Importance of Advertising in a Competitive Business World

Ahsan Siraj

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The best way to communicate with the customers is communication through advertisements. Through advertising customers are informed about the available brands in the market and also variety of new and existing products useful for them.Here are different definitions of advertising.

According to Kotler’s definition: “Advertising is any paid form of non-personal presentation & promotion of ideas, goods, or services by an identified sponsor.”

According to the Advertising Association of the UK: “Advertising is any communication, usually paid-for, specifically intended to inform and/or influence one or more people.”

Advertising is done by using different media types and different techniques and methods as per the requirements. It also aims to attract all age groups depending on the nature of brands and products they are offering to their customers. Communication between companies and customers are basically carried out in a very artistic way and for this effective communication in order to fulfil desired objectives one should possess great communication skills and convincing power.

What are Advertising Objectives?

Advertising is part of marketing and one of the most creative fields. Advertising is part of marketing but normally people confuse advertising with marketing. Hence, the objectives of Advertising are completely different from Marketing. The main objective of advertising is to carry out communications between the brand and the customer. Here are some more important objectives of advertising.

  • The introduction of the new product in the market is the most common reason behind the advertising by the brands and these brands can be new in the market as well as existing brands. The objective here is to tell customers about the new product launched in the market.
  • There are a lot of new businesses starting in the market and many among those are service providing businesses. For services the business are marketed as a brand instead of marketing their individual products.
  • Businesses use advertising to get attention as well as creating desire to buy a certain product or service and according to the AIDA model mostly followed in advertising basically getting attention is awareness creation while desire creation leads to buying. By advertising companies capture attention of people and make them aware of the products available in the market.
  • Another important objective of advertising is seeking customers. These customers can be both new and the ones purchasing from other brands. By effective advertising potential customers can be attracted to a certain brand making existing customers to switch brands.
  • In a competitive business world, it is very important to differentiate a brand’s product and service from its competitors and it is done by effective advertising. A customer can only differentiate between products and services based on the value a certain business provides over its competitors. That’s why advertising is used to create value and to differentiate one brand’s products and services from others in the market.
  • Brand building is also an important objective of advertising. So, when a brand regularly advertises and delivers quality products and fulfills the promises it makes, automatically the value of the brand is built.
  • Increasing the sales is another objective being achieved by effective advertising. The more customers attracted to a brand by advertising the more increase in sales is recorded.
  • With the value being communicated and the brand being differentiated as well as sales being increased, there is no doubt that advertising can contribute a lot to increasing profits.

What is the Importance of Advertising?

Advertising is equally important to customers, businesses and society. So, here are some of the important factors to all above mentioned areas.

Importance of advertising to Customers

Convenience: Advertisement is very helpful for customer’s decision-making process because through advertisement customers are well aware of their desired products available in the market. So, it is convenience for them to find their desired products in the market.

Awareness: It is due to the advertising that customers are well aware of the products and their features available in the market.This awareness not only helps customers to make purchase decision but also enable them to compare different products and choose the best product for them.

Quality Assurance: When we look at the trends in the market we come to know that advertising is done by brands only about their products and services. No local businesses go for advertising because no advertisements are required for unbranded products. This ensures quality products to the customers.

Importance of advertising to Business

Awareness: It is because of advertising that people are well aware of their desired brands and productsavailable in the market.

Brand Image: It is very important to create a positivebrand image and brand personality in the minds of the customers and it is done efficiently by advertising.

Product Differentiation: One business is able to differentiate its product from those of its competitors’ and communicate its features and advantages to the target audience by using effective advertising.

Profit MaximizationDue toadvertising brands are able to deliver their message to a large audience and hence more people tend to buy from those brands ultimately making them able to earn more money.

Importance of advertising to Society

Advertising is really helpful in educating people. There are some social issues required to be addressed for social benefits and advertising deals with them like child labor, smoking, family planning education, etc. therefore, advertising plays a significant role in society.

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Economy

India-Pakistan: Rethinking regional connectivity

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If one were to look at discussions pertaining to South Asia, India’s current tensions with China, and strained ties with neighbors – especially Nepal – in recent months have drawn immense attention. One of the other important developments, which is likely to have a significant impact on South Asia’s geopolitical and economic dynamics is the  Iran-China 25 year agreement, which will impact not just bilateral relations, but geo-political, economic and security dynamics in South Asia. For one, Pakistan’s ties with Iran are likely to strengthen, and Islamabad is likely to pitch its bandwagon firmly with China and Iran. Second, it has been argued, that China’s clout in Afghanistan is likely to rise, as a result of the 25 year agreement with Iran, not just in terms of economic influence, but also strategic context 

India-Iran ties and the Chabahar Project 

India too has begun to pay closer attention to Iran after the agreement, especially after it gave signals, that it could be elbowed out of the Chabahar-Zahedan (near the Afghan border) rail way line and important component Chabahar Port project.(India’s gateway to Afghanistan and Central Asia) 

A clear reiteration of this point is the recent visits by Indian Defence Minister,Rajnath Singh and Foreign Minister, S Jaishankar to Tehran. Both Indian ministers met with senior Iranian officials, and discussed issues pertaining to bilateral cooperation, with an emphasis on the progress of the Chabahar project, and regional security. 

It would be pertinent to point out, that Tehran has expressed its frustration with India with regard to funding, as well as the slow progress of the Chabahar project. Bilateral relations had witnessed a downhill slope, after India stopped purchasing oil in May 2019 (US had had removed the temporary exemptions from sanctions which had provided to India and some other countries). Iran criticized India for toeing the US line, and began to warm up to Pakistan. Significantly, Tehran criticized India for the revocation of Article 370 in August 2019 

Iran’s Supreme leaderAli Khamenei said 

“We’re concerned about the Muslims’ situation in Kashmir. We have good relations with India, but we expect the Indian government to adopt a just policy towards the noble people of Kashmir and prevent the oppression and bullying of Muslims in this region.” 

Iran had also criticized India’s policies like the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and made strong statements against the Delhi riots in February 2020, expressing concern with regard to the safety of Muslims in India. Said Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif: 

‘…We urge Indian authorities to ensure the well being of ALL Indians & not let senseless thuggery prevail. Path forward lies in peaceful dialogue and rule of law.’ 

Iranian Supreme leader made even stronger remarks.

Recent visits by top officials are an indicator, that New Delhi is keen to ensure, that the Chabahar Project remains on track, and that on  Afghanistan, Tehran does not totally toe Beijing’s line on Afghanistan. Another important consideration is possible change of guard in Washington DC. It is likely, that Joe Biden will follow a different approach, from Donald Trump, vis-à-vis Iran, and is likely to be open to engagement with Tehran (this will provide India space to pursue economic links with Iran).

While India has been seeking to amend ties with Iran, with an eye on its vision for regional connectivity, Pakistan has recently agreed to become part of the  Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement( QTTA which will enable it to circumvent Afghanistan. The Karakorum highway will be Pakistan’s gateway to Central Asia. It connects Gilgit-Baltistan to China’s Xinjiang region, which further links with Central Asian States 

One of the reasons cited by Pakistan, for going ahead with QTTA Kabul has been reluctant to provide access to Pakistani products for reaching out to Central Asian states. Kabul has put the pre-condition that it would only allow the same, if Pakistan allowed land access for Indian goods to reach Afghanistan. 

During Uzbekistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Sardor Umur Zakov recent visit to Pakistan, he met with Pakistan PM Imran Khan, and senior officials. Possible ways of bolstering bilateral economic ties and connectivity were explored, and issues pertaining to regional security were discussed

India-Pakistan  

Connectivity and trade are important, and for very long suggestions have been made by commentators for New Delhi and Islamabad not just to strengthen economic linkages, but also to explore regional connectivity initiatives together. The strained relationship between India and Pakistan has meant that such suggestions are nothing, but a mere pipe dream.  

At the inauguration of the Kartarpur Religious Corridor in November 2019, Navjot Singh Sidhu, a Former Indian cricketer and Congress legislator from Punjab (India)  had also pitched for imaginative thinking, and  to foster economic cooperation between the two Punjab’s.

 Said Sidhu: 

“My dream is that a trader should start after having breakfast from Amritsar in the morning and come to Lahore and have biryani here, do his business and go back to Amritsar,” he said. 

Conclusion 

While in the immediate future all countries have to look out for their economic interests and connectivity is a key tool for the same. In the longer run,  it would make sense for New Delhi and Islamabad to resume not just bilateral trade, but also to set aside differences, and to work towards examining synergies in the area of regional connectivity. The ultimate aim should be India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran connectivity and a zero sum approach should not drive regional connectivity initiatives. 

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