Accra (Ghana), Jan 2 (IANS) Indians invested over $4.5 billion in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, last year whilst other initiatives were put in place in Benin, Cameroon and Chad as part of efforts to improve ties between India and West African nations, Mahesh Sachdev, Indian High Commissioner in Abuja, said.
In an email exchange with IANS, he listed the investments as a plant to produce fertiliser worth $2.4 million by Nagarjuna Corporation, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plant by Indorama worth $2 billion and the establishment of a primary alcohol plant worth $120 million. PET is a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family used in synthetic fibre and manufacture of beverage, food and other liquid containers.
The Indorama PET plant will produce 86,000 tonnes in the first phase, which will effectively satisfy the country's 50,000 tonne domestic market requirement, while the rest will be exported.
This will move Nigeria from a net importer of PET resins to a net exporter of the product.
Launching the PET plant at Eleme near Port Harcourt in Rivers State last year, Governor Chibuike Amaechi described it as the first of such plants in sub-Saharan Africa.
Sachdev said trade among the four countries had seen some growth but declined towards the end of the year. "Although India's trade with these four countries declined during April-October 2012 by 10.4 per cent, it was largely due to lower Indian purchase of Nigerian crude," Sachdev added.
He said Indian exports to Nigeria grew by over nine percent, adding: "Nigeria, nevertheless, still has a hefty trade surplus. India is likely to remain Nigeria's second largest trading partner in 2012, but the gap from the first - the US - is continuing to shrink rapidly."
"India's ties with Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon and Chad continued to chug along since we signed off in early August 2012," adding that "the people-to-people contacts grew and we expect to end 2012 with around 40,000 visas, up 16 per cent over 2011.
During 2012, several prominent visitors from the four countries visited India, among them former Nigerian president General Olusegun Obasanjo, as well as Nigeria's ministers of works, science and technology, interior and defence, Sachdev said.
Dignitaries from Cameroon included the minister of economy and from Chad, the minister of social affairs.
In addition, 236 professionals from Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon and Chad attended various courses in India under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme since last April. Of these, 188 were from Nigeria, 12 from Benin, 25 from Cameroon and 11 from Chad.
(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)