Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann on Friday ended a two-day visit to Nigeria looking at opportunities to strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries.
Schneider-Ammann, who also holds the education and research portfolios, was accompanied to the capital Abuja and economic capital Lagos by a group of Swiss parliamentarians, members of cantonal governments and business representatives.
A ministry spokeswoman said the visit had come at an opportune time. Switzerland and its partners in the EFTA European Free Trade Association (including Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) in December signed a common statement of intent to boost economic cooperation with Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous country with190 million inhabitants.
In Abuja, Nigeria’s Industry, Trade and Investment Minister Okechukwu Enelamah told the Swiss delegation of his country’s efforts to relaunch its economy, including reducing its dependence on oil.
Nigeria is a major oil producer and has since 2015 been Switzerland’s biggest oil supplier. In 2017, 45% of Swiss oil imports came from the former British colony.
However, Nigeria is just emerging from an economic recession caused by falling oil prices since 2014. Its GDP declined for seven consecutive quarters before registering a modest 0.8% growth last year.
Some 45 Swiss companies are currently present in Nigeria, according to officials. Together they employ nearly 9,000 people.
Schneider-Ammann now visits Ivory Coast, a francophone country of 27 million people, before leaving Africa on Sunday.