The Federal Republic of Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa boasting its US$448 billion GDP (2019). According to Korean Ambassador Kim Young-chae in Nigeria, the country’s estimated population of about 200 million is also the largest in the African continent. In this respect, he said, Nigeria is known as the ‘Giant of Africa.’
Nigeria is also well known as a conspicuously friendly country with Korea in Africa, and won a very praise from President Moon Jae-in. On May 4, 2018 at the time of a meeting with new Korean ambassadors to overseas missions, President Moon said, “I am particularly grateful to Nigeria and the members of the Korean Embassy there for their unreserved effort made for the release of kidnapped Korean crew in Ghana.”
Nigeria is known to produce 2.1 million barrels of crude oil a day from its territory, which is more than four times the size of the Korean Peninsula. It is blessed with 37 billion barrels of crude oil reserves and 190.4 trillion square feet of natural gas reserves, placing Nigeria at 11th and 10th in the world respectively.
Following its independence in 1960, according to Ambassador Kim, Nigeria put an end to its prolonged military rule to pave the way for the first civilian President in 1999. A peaceful change of administrations was achieved through the election of the current President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2015, who was re-elected by the Nigerian people in 2019. Not only has Nigeria advanced its democracy, but it also has made steady progress in economic and social development.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Nigeria in February 1980, the two friendly countries have fostered close collaborative ties. In particular, Nigeria is the only country in the African continent who has a Korean Cultural Center, which actively promotes cultural ties and people-to-people exchanges.
Korean businesses are expanding their presence in Nigeria, mainly in resource development and construction. Bilateral trade volume reached US$1.27 billion in 2020, and Nigeria emerged as Korea's third largest trade partner among African countries.
In construction, the total value of orders received by Korean companies reached US$ 15 billion in 2020, which means that Nigeria is by far the biggest construction market to Korea among Sub-Sahara African countries. Currently, according to Ambassador Kim, Korean firms are building LNG plants, crude oil transportation and storage facilities, and working hard to expand their business activities.
“Together with the Consulate Office in Lagos, we will endeavor to further develop our bilateral relations across all aspects, including political relations,” vows Ambassador Kim. He said, “We will pay particular attention to the private sector such as businesses, arts and culture, academia, and media. It is also a duty of the Embassy to protect the safety and rights of the Korean residents and visitors in Nigeria.”
According to Reporter Kang Yoon-seung of Yonhap News Agency in Korea on April 28, Korea plans to invest 36.4 billion won (US$32.3 million) to build a new test bed to speed up the development of carbon-neutral ships.
A new test center will also be built in Mokpo, 410 kilometers south of Seoul, where businesses and institutions can demonstrate their newly developed technologies, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
Under the plan, the government will build a new ship that can test various engines, including those powered by electric or hydrogen, by 2025, it added.
As the ship's engines can be replaced, it will significantly cut the cost of building separate ships for different models.
The ministry said the scheme will lend a hand to South Korea's efforts to go carbon neutral by 2050, and speed up the development of environment-friendly ships.
The move also came as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) launched tougher environmental guidelines for the maritime industry last year, inducing ships to use clean fuel, such as low-sulfur fuel oil.
Earlier on April 27, Yonhap reported that Korea's investment in startups spiked nearly 61 percent in the first quarter of the year amid hopes of high returns.
A total of 1.25 trillion won (US$1.12 billion) was invested in promising venture firms and startups in the January-March period, up 61.1 percent from a year earlier, according to the data from the Ministry of SMEs and Startups.
It was the highest amount for the first quarter and the second-largest quarterly figure after the 1.41 trillion won for the fourth quarter of 2020.
The ministry said local investment in startups shot up in the first quarter amid a global venture boom.
Investment in the distribution, ICT, biopharmaceutical and medical sectors rose sharply as investors saw them as promising post-coronavirus industries.
The data also showed the number of venture investments soaring 37.8 percent on-year to 989 cases, with that of investment-receiving firms spiking 37.8 percent to 558.
The amount of created venture funds stood at 1.46 trillion won in the first quarter, up a whopping 186.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the data.
According to a report by Daily Trust in Nigeria on Nov. 29, 2019, some 14 Korean companies plan to invest in Nigeria quoting Korean Ambassador Lee In-Tae in Nigeria.
Amb. Lee also said Korea’s bilateral trade volume with Nigeria rose to $2 billion in 2018 due to trade increase between the two countries.
He disclosed this in Abuja at the Korea-Nigeria joint partnership infrastructure seminar.
“Our trade volume in 2018 was two billion US dollars. This is a huge figure, considering that Nigeria’s GDP per capita in 2018 was about 2,050 US dollars. In other words, our trade volume was equal to GDP of nearly one million Nigerians.
“I know this is an impressive figure, but we can be more ambitious. As Korean ambassador, I would like to see this number grow much bigger.”
Then he said, “Nigeria is a country full of economic potential, and we must seize this opportunity to expand our economic cooperation. We must also work together to build Nigeria’s infrastructure.”
“Korea owes its economic growth in large part to the development of its infrastructure. However, our infrastructure would not have been possible without the help of Korean construction companies. And now these Korean companies have become the best in the world and are eager to invest in Nigeria,” added Amb. Lee.
Following are excerpts from further details of statement made by Amb. Lee:
Imagine what Nigeria could achieve when its infrastructure becomes world-class. Nigeria would experience economic growth like no other African countries. The Nigerian people will benefit enormously from its superior infrastructure.
To help Nigeria fulfill this, best and the largest construction companies in Korea were invited to meet with Nigeria’s public and private companies.
Their construction skills and technology are one of the most advanced in the world, and they can help build sustainable infrastructure in Nigeria. If Korean companies can help build Nigeria’s infrastructure, they will also contribute to the success of President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts to achieve his Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, he said.
Next year is the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Nigeria. To celebrate our long friendship, now would be a good time to upgrade our economic partnership.
In his address, Mr. Agba said President Buhari would continue to build more
Nigeria’s power infrastructure would continue to be improved upon to take the economy to enviable height.