A high-powered delegation of Nigerian investors is expected to fly in today to join the three-day state visit of President Goodluck Jonathan. Around 50 wealthy investors will arrive in a fleet of seven private jets, according to a close source.
They include Aliko Dangote of Dangote Group, Africa’s richest businessman, ranked among the top 25 in the world, whose worth is over $20 billion (over Sh1.75 trillion).
The two economic powerhouses of West and East Africa are expected to sign major trade deals in their first meeting of such magnitude. The Nigerian President’s plane will touch down at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 4pm and he will be welcomed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
There will be a formal state reception including a guard of honour at State House, Nairobi. The two heads of state will hold meetings with public and private sector actors to foster bilateral and trade ties.
The chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kiprono Kittony, said the visit will go a long way to eliminate negative stereotyping between the two nations which has damaged trade.
Exports to Nigeria fell to Sh2.9 billion last year from a peak of Sh3.2 billion in 2008, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. Similarly imports declined to a mere Sh48.6 million from Sh169.8 million over the same period.
Last year the Kenya Association of Manufacturers visited Nigeria to seek new opportunities in West Africa. On July 16 the Nigerian and Kenyan foreign ministers signed three bilateral agreements in Abuja in the presence of Uhuru and Goodluck.
The agreements included a Joint Commission for Cooperation plan, a protocol on trade consultations, and an MoU on mutual cooperation between the Foreign Service Institute of Kenya and the Foreign Service Academy of Nigeria.
At the time a Kenyan plane had been seized for flouting Nigeria’s aviation rules when it landed with Anthony Chinedu who had been deported on suspicion of drug trafficking.
“As the business community, we highly commend President Kenyatta for reaching out to African countries that offer big opportunities for our local products,” said Kittony yesterday.
The Nigerian investors come from the manufacturing, petrochemicals, agribusiness, food, commodities and telecommunications industries. They include Tony Elumelu, Sani Dangote and Whitey Basson.
The Kenyan Chamber is expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with its Nigerian counterpart tomorrow morning before an agribusiness luncheon hosted by the Central Bank and coordinated by the Chamber at a Nairobi hotel.
The luncheon will be attended by both heads of state. Nigeria has more developed banking, oil and gas industries while Kenya has a successful domestic service sector including aviation, tourism and hospitality industries.
“Both countries are also primary producers in different sectors and that opens a whole window of opportunities to do business especially in areas of industrial development,” Kittony said.
“For example, Nigeria imports a lot of butter from far countries such as New Zealand and Australia when we sometimes have a surplus here.” Dangote has just finalised a $3.3billion loan deal for construction of the biggest oil refinery and fertiliser factory in Africa with Standard Chartered Bank and Nigeria’s Guaranty Trust Bank. The two plants will cost a total of $9 billion and will create 9,500 direct and 25,000 indirect jobs.