ABUJA: India has identified infrastructure development and energy security as the key areas for cooperation with Nigeria and said these sectors would allow both countries to collaborate and benefit from each other’s expertise.

“Infrastructure stimulation programmes launched by the government of India, like the mission to develop 100 smart cities, upgrade infrastructure development in urban and rural areas and enhance nationwide connectivity through the ‘Digital India’ programme, have created massive opportunities for foreign partners in the Indian economy,” Vice President Hamid Ansari said at the Nigeria-India Business Forum here yesterday.

“Infrastructure development and energy security are key areas for cooperation for emerging economies like India and Nigeria,” he told the members of Nigerian and Indian industry.

“These sectors allow for both our countries to collaborate and benefit from each other’s expertise,” said Ansari, who is on a five-day visit to Nigeria and Mali.

He also said given India’s current and expanding energy requirements, there is significant potential for “diversifying our engagement in oil and gas sector by enhancing our cooperation in both upstream and downstream domains”.

Nigeria is an important partner for India’s energy security requirement. About 12 per cent of India’s crude requirement comes from Nigeria.

“Over 100 Indian companies have made Nigeria their base to operate in West Africa, employing the largest number of Nigerians after the federal government, and covering diverse sectors of the economy.

“It is estimated that the Indian investments have exceeded $ 10 billion so far, and another $ 5 billion are committed. Indian investments are in diverse sectors such as communications, power, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, automotive sector and oil, among others,” he said.

Ansari also underscored the need to synergise its growth strategies with Nigeria in the backdrop of the current global financial situation, saying economic cooperation occupies a prominent position in the bilateral matrix.

“India and Nigeria are well placed to convert this challenge into an opportunity. We count on you, the business leaders from Nigeria and India, to be the architects of this important change,” he said.

His counterpart Yemi Osinbajo and several top business leaders from both the countries were present at the event.