Dec 9 2013, 12:18am CST | by IANS
Addis Ababa, Dec 9 — A newly created Nigerian province that contains 40 percent of the country's known oil reserves has sought investments from India, primarily in the exploration and healthcare sectors.
"There are various opportunities in Bayelsa that are suitable for Indian companies and investors and we want them to invest," Governor Henry Seriake Dickson told IANS on the sidelines of the Economist African High Growth Markets Summit here.
"Synergy can also be created between Bayelsa and India so that both countries can tap the gas and energy resources that the state has to offer", Cyril Akika O, senior special adviser to the governor on investment, told IANS.
"They will have opportunities to own oil blocks that would produce crude and this could be taken to India to refine and sell", Akika O added.
Bayelsa, located in the Niger Delta region of southern Nigeria, was created in 1996 after splitting Rivers state. It is the country's largest oil producing state, contributing 40 percent of total crude production and 60 percent of gas. It has the nation's largest gas reserves, exceeding 18 trillion cubic feet.
"If Indian corporations and firms could work with us it would be an opportunity for both the countries since they have the specialties and we have large health-related projects like big hospitals", Dickson said.
The state has investment potential in agriculture, aquaculture, tourism and hospitality, minerals, fisheries, energy, maritime industry and shipping, light manufacturing and infrastructure.
The state is giving priority to the Bayelsa Integrated Security Strategy (BISS) to attract foreign investors."
"We acknowledge the need for a strong rule of law; so we're working on an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) system to match an efficient and independent judiciary" the governor said.
He also pointed out that Bayelsa quickly processes investment accreditation requests through an automated system to facilitate land titles within 60 days of their acquisition by investors."
"There are no Indian companies so far in our state and we have been working through the Indian high commissioner to Nigeria to bring investors . The efforts will hopefully be successful," Dickson said.
There are many Indian investors in Nigeria in various sectors, including telecom, plastics manufacturing, toothpaste and palm oil production, the governor's advisor said.
With a population of 158 million and considerable revenue from oil exports, Nigeria is the largest trading partner of India in Africa, with bilateral trade touching $17 billion in 2011-12.
The Indian community in Nigeria is estimated to be 35,000-strong. Most Indians in the country are well off and enjoy a non-controversial existence.
(Hadra Ahmed can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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