By Kingsley Opurum, Abuja
As Nigeria continues to strain every sinew to fully recover from the economic woes that plagued her since 2015, economic experts have opined that the Republic of Indonesia seems to be a viable option for the most populous African country’s rapid economic recovery.
It is beyond every shadow of doubt that President Muhammadu Buhari-led government is working round the clock to make the nation’s economy the largest and strongest in Africa. It is against this backdrop that a renowned economist, Garba Ahmed, has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to run to Indonesia in order to accomplish such lofty goal with ease, believing that the Southeast Asian economic powerhouse is willing to help Nigeria to grow its economy.
Recall that the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma said that the drive of the Indonesian Government to invest in various sectors of the Nigerian economy is much appreciated because it is coming at a time Nigeria is seeking to grow its economy along a diversified, sustainable and inclusive path.
The Minister also said that Nigeria appreciates the investments already made by Indonesian companies and would welcome more, including the desire to establish oil palm plantations and processing mills and the possibility of manufacturing small-aircraft in Nigeria.
Indonesia’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Harry Purwanto, made it known that Nigeria remained Indonesia’s largest trade partner in spite of fall in trade volume between the two countries. Purwanto, who stated this at a news conference on the forthcoming 72nd Independence Day of Indonesia in Abuja, said that the embassy was committed to strengthening economic ties between the two countries.
He said Nigeria-Indonesia bilateral trade reached four billion dollars in 2014 but fell to two billion dollars in 2016.The envoy blamed this on the low price of crude, which he said was the largest export product from Nigeria to Indonesia.“We still import the same volume of crude from Nigeria but the falling oil price in the international market contributed to the low trade,” he saidHe, however, said that the volume of non-oil exports to Indonesia increased by 12 per cent in 2016.
Mr. Purwanto said trade relations relied on private sectors and expressed commitment to ensuring growing trade ties by educating Indonesia’s business community on investment potential in Nigeria.He said successful Indonesian companies already operating in Nigeria were good testimonies of good trading relations with the Southeast Asian nation.
“In July 2017, the two countries agreed to explore ways of facilitating enhanced, balanced and sustainable trade relations, including reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers,” he added.He said about 480 Indonesians were residing in Nigeria, the figure he said was lower when compared to about 2,000 Nigerians in Indonesia. He blamed this on the cost of securing Nigerian visa, which discouraged many Indonesians from visiting Nigeria.
The envoy lauded the bilateral relations between the two countries, saying Nigeria and Indonesia were natural partners with many commonalities.He said this included huge economic potential, shared ideals and strong sense of responsibility of international causes as influential nations in Asia and Africa.
“As true partner for peace and development, Indonesia strives to deepen relations with Nigeria in terms of capacity building.
According to him, about 200 Nigerians have undergone different capacity building programmes in Indonesia since 2008 in different sectors.He said this included agriculture, fisheries, oil and gas, good governance, women empowerment, health, poverty reduction, Zakat and endowment, arts and culture and sciences.
Nigeria is on the road to achieving its objective of boosting the Nigeria’s local refining capacity as an Indonesian firm has commenced construction of a modular refinery in the country.The refinery is located in Akwa Ibom State and on completion is expected to churn out 10,000 barrels of oil per day.
Nigeria is Indonesia’s second largest trade partner in Africa after South Africa. In 2016, the trade value reached US$2.09 billion accounted for 21.66 percent of Indonesia’s total trade with Africa. In 2014, the bilateral trade volume between the countries hits US$4 billion.
There are over 15 Indonesian companies currently operating in Nigeria such as Indorama, Indofood, Kalbe Farma, and Wings. Indofood for example had established instant noodle factory in Nigeria since 1995 where Indomie has become a popular brand and have the largest instant noodles manufacturing plant in Africa.
It is worthy of note that Indonesia, the world’s 4thmost populous nation, is also the world’s 16 most prosperous country and holds a huge potential for economic relations for Nigeria.In 2016, Indonesia shipped US$144.5 billion worth of goods around the globe.
A member of G-20, Indonesia has the largest economy in Southeast Asia. During the global financial crisis, Indonesia outperformed its regional neighbours and joined China and India as the only G-20 members posting growth.Indonesia has generous natural resources, which include crude oil, natural gas, tin, copper and gold. Its exports include machinery and equipment (e.g. locomotives, Strategic Sealift Vessel, airplanes like CN235 airplane and Super Puma Helicopter; ships, submarines, military vehicles, etc.), chemicals, fuels and foodstuffs.
Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil, second largest producer of cassava, and third largest rice producer. Other major Indonesian exports are oil and gas, electrical appliances, plywood, rubber, and textiles.