Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), a leading think thank organised a round table conference with National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies of Nigeria (NIPSS), a policy formulation centre in that country, to discuss the topic of "Revitalization of India–Nigeria Relations" on Tuesday July 4, 2013.
The visiting high powered Nigerian delegation comprised of senior bureaucrats, defence force officers, academics and private sector leaders. The Indian side was represented by some former Indian Ambassadors, specialists and research scholars on African studies, apart from ICWA functionaries. Former High Commissioner to Nigeria Ambassador HS Viswanathan, as a moderator set the agenda for the discussion in his opening remarks. He spoke about his experience of serving in Nigeria
Chairman OIA Ambassador V.B. Soni, who has served in many West African countries as Ambassador of India was invited to sit on the dais with the Presiding officer and share his views on Indian- Africa relations with special emphasis on Nigeria. He complimented the delegation on the 50th anniversary of the founding of African Union celebrated a fortnight back in Addis Ababa. He highlighted the various initiatives taken as FOCUS AFRICA policy by Government of India to forge closer links with African countries like Nigeria through India-Africa Forum Summit.
Ambassador Soni spoke about the $ 5 billion as line of credit on soft terms announced for African countries. Mention was made by him of the many new institutions and training programmes for skill development and capacity building to be set up in Africa, apart from the popular Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Training (ITEC) programme. The innovative Pan-African E-Network Project, he said, is now being taken to the next stage by establishing India-Africa Virtual University. India had already announced a Free Preferential Scheme for the least developed countries 30 out of 50 of whom are in Africa.
Mentioning about his own exploratory business visit to Nigeria some time back he said that he came back encouraged and his company OIA is pursuing some possible projects to set up there.
Ms Shamma Jain of ICWA spoke at length about her own experience as Ambassador of India to Cote d'Ivoire till recently. In her new appointment with ICWA she hoped to forge academic links with their counterparts in Nigeria.
Ms. Ruchita Beri, from Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis shared her prospective on the National security and the policies India is implementing to handle internal security.
Nigerian delegates wanted to know about the Indian development experience and how Indian economy has been performing as the fastest growing economy, investment pattern, oil and gas infrastructure, policy on women and youth development, security issues and corruption. In reply to above questions, detailed response was given by the Indian panellist. Ambassador Soni handled the questions pertaining to economic/trade and corruption issue etc for the benefit of the visiting delegation. It turned out an interactive and informative session.