30 November 2015
By Tom Collins
Carrigaline based Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney T.D. marked the first day of his trade mission to West Africa today with a number of promotional events for Irish companies in the agri-food, education and ICT sectors in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. The Minister also had a high level bilateral meeting with his newly-appointed Nigerian counterpart, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, H.E. Chief Audu Ogbeh.
Commenting on the meeting, Minister Coveney said “I was delighted to meet with Minister Ogbeh today and to have the opportunity to congratulate him on his recent appointment. On behalf of the Irish Government I emphasised that we very much look forward to working with the new Nigerian Government and building on the many areas of cooperation between our two Countries. Our collaboration dates back to when Ireland opened its first Embassy in Africa in Nigeria in 1961 and the partnership between our two countries in areas such as trade, education and culture continues to grow. On the issue of agri-food trade we discussed the growing trade in exports from Ireland to Nigeria particularly the dairy sector which alone is worth €140m last year, up 50% since 2010. We also discussed how Nigeria can become an even stronger base for Irish investment in the region and I look forward to visiting some of these investments by leading companies such as Ornua and Kerry Group later in the week.”
The Minister is accompanied by 45 Irish companies on the mission this week from the agri-food, Education, Financial, Aviation, Energy and ICT sectors and a number of promotional events for these sectors were held in Abuja today. Accompanying the Minister on the mission is Enterprise Ireland CEO, Julie Sinnamon who commented “the events in Abuja today confirm our view that there are strong opportunities in the Nigerian market for Irish companies in a number of key sectors including Education, Financial Services, Aviation, Medtech and Oil and Gas”.
The high level of participation demonstrates how strong SMEs intend to avail of opportunities in Nigeria. The trade mission continues on Tuesday when the focus turns to Lagos when the key event will be a dairy seminar organised by Bord Bia targeting key buyers in the region and building on the strong existing trade in this sector. Concluding the Minister said “today in Abuja highlighted the strength of the relationship between Ireland and Nigeria and the importance of maintaining and growing these close ties. The trade opportunities for Irish companies here are immense and this week’s trade mission will undoubtedly help much of this potential business to be realised”.