JOHANNESBURG, May 25- Nigeria could become India’s leading strategic partner in Africa as both countries share similar attributes and have huge economic opportunities in various fields, Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted an analyst as saying.
Ronak Gopaldas, an analyst at South Africa’s Rand Merchant Bank, listed similarities in risk factors between both countries from a social, socio-economic and security standpoint as being significant in fostering greater synergy.
“Many of the traits exhibited by Nigeria mirror those experienced by India during the initial stages of its high growth phase between 2003 and 2008,” he wrote in the daily Business Day.
“Both are characterised by a demographic boom, rapid urbanisation, a poor and ethnically diverse population and an array of vast economic opportunities.” From a security perspective, Gopaldas said both countries have strong and powerful militaries and are key power brokers in volatile regions.
“As such, they have assumed the roles of regional hegemons and are key allies of the West in the diplomatic arena.”
The analyst said investors looking at Nigeria will see a number of striking parallels with India, including economic opportunities in infrastructure, power, farming, telecoms and consumer fields.
Nigeria is a market that cannot be ignored as Indian companies try to establish a foothold in Africa, he said.
“The presence of established Nigerian conglomerates with Indian roots, such as the Chellaram and Tolaram groups, acts as an important link to expanding commercial ties between the two countries,” Gopaldas said. The analyst also believes that India’s vulnerability to oil prices can be aided by resource-rich Nigeria.
“India, in turn, can supply Nigeria with cars, pharmaceuticals, textiles and expertise to facilitate growth of its non-oil sectors.
“Technological and medical expertise are other obvious areas of co-operation,” he added. India-Nigeria biletral trade rose by 36 per cent to US$17.3 billion in 2012.