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Remarks by MoS at the signing ceremony of the India-Nigeria MOU on cooperation in outer space

August 13, 2020

H.E. Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Hon’ble Minister of Science & Technology, Federal Republic of Nigeria,
H.E. Dr Francis Chizea, Director-General, National Space Research & Development Agency,
Shri Abhay Thakur, High Commissioner of India to Nigeria,
Shri R. Umamaheswaran, Distinguished Scientist & Scientific Secretary, ISRO,
Dr. D. Gowrisankar, Director, International Cooperation, ISRO
Friends from the media,
Ladies & Gentlemen,

Namaskaram and good afternoon to all.


I would like to personally thank Your Excellency Dr.Ogbonnaya Onu, Honble Minister of Science & Technology and the Hon’ble Minister of State H.E. Mr. Mohammed H. Abduallahi, for taking valuable time from busy schedule and gracing the signing of this important MoU.

2. I am particularly happy to witness the signing of this MoU. I recall my first ever foreign visit after assuming as Minister of State for External Affairs to your beautiful country last year in June to participate in the Democracy Day celebrations. During the visit, I could meet H. E. President of Nigeria, and Vice President of Nigeria and discussed bilateral, multilateral and regional issues of mutual interest. Though, it was hectic, what impressed me was the warmth and hospitality of Nigeria.

3. I take this opportunity to extend my congratulations to both National Space Research & Development Agency, Nigeria and ISRO and appreciate their efforts in concluding this MoU. I am happy to note that a subsidiary MOU has also been agreed to sign for cooperation in the field of of geospatial technologies under the aegis of this MoU.

4. Excellency, relations between India and Nigeria are long-standing, deep rooted in similar historical experiences against colonization. Our relations have evolved over the years and are multifaceted. Our ties have diversified from traditional areas such as trade and economy to defence and security. People-to-people contacts and cultural have seen momemtum in the recent years, thanks to vibrant India diaspora in Nigeria and Nigerian community in India. We also have similar approaches to various international issues and work closely in the international fora including at the United Nations. As Africa's most-populous country and largest-economy, Nigeria is at the centre of our vision of India's engagement with Africa.

5. Nigeria is India's largest trading partner in Africa. India is also Nigeria's largest trading partner globally. Our bilateral trade turnover in the last Financial year 2019-2020 was USD 13.8 bn, the same level as the year 2018-2019. 10% of India's energy needs are also met by Nigeria. It is a matter of satisfaction that our trade has remained steady, despite Covid-19 challenges, and it reflects the resilience of our mutually-beneficial economic linkages. Cumulative Indian and Indian-origin/owned investment in Nigeria is USD 19.3 billion, and Indian / Indian-origin companies are among the largest employers in Nigeria.

6. Our respective national efforts have contributed to the relatively low spread of COVID in our two countries so far. India is committed to providing all necessary support to Nigeria and Africa in its fight against COVID-19. Last month, our High Commissioner handed-over a 7-tonne consignment of HCQS and essential medicines and antibiotics to the Hon'ble Health Minister of Nigeria. Despite certain production challenges, we have also not hesitated in giving permission for exports of needed pharmaceuticals to Africa, including Nigeria. We stand ready to play our part in meeting the challenge of supply disruptions in food and medicines. This was also conveyed to Foreign Minister of Nigeria H. E. Geoffrey Onyema by our External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishakar, when they spoke in April 2020.

7. Today, I would also like to thank Nigeria for smooth repatriation of over 5000 Indian nationals, in terms of flight clearances, visa / permit waiver for any overstay, and airport arrangements. We were also happy to facilitate several evacuation flights for Nigerians from India. Having said that, it is equally satisfying that essential travel, both ways, for work and business is also being allowed, including permanent residents and personnel from India to Nigeria and select medical cases and students from Nigeria to India.

8. The MoU that will be signed today will further expand India-Nigeria collaboration in space science, joint space R&D, and capacity-building assistance by ISRO. Cooperation in remote-sensing, communications and navigation will benefit Nigeria in the fields of forestry, environment, agriculture, mining, watershed-development and connectivity.

9. Let me conclude by reiterating India’s firm commitment to work with Nigeria to further strengthen our bilateral cooperation in the years ahead.

 

Thank you.
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