How would you describe relations between Ukraine and Nigeria?
The political, economic, trade and cultural relations between our two states have been prospectively and gradually developing. Both Ukraine and Nigeria continue to invest a lot of efforts in this progress. In the history of our bilateral relations, there are many positive examples of cooperation in the framework of the international organizations and UN peacekeeping operations on the African continent. The dynamic development of the Ukraine-Nigeria trade and economic relations, tendency to the growth of volumes of trade turnover made Nigeria one of Ukraine’s key partners in Africa. Last year the trade volume positively changed. In 2012 it rose to 280.3 million USD and increased by 24,4 %. During the seven months of this year, mutual trade turnover amounted to 204,6 million USD or climbed 15 % compared to the same period of the previous year. I am sure that the opportunities of trade and economic cooperation between Ukraine and Nigeria are far from being exhausted. Powerful industrial and technological potentials of Ukraine can be very helpful for Nigeria in intensifying its industrial development, in particular, for developing the metallurgical branch, expansion of electric power generating facilities network, and development of transport infrastructure and food-processing industry. We positively consider the prospects of cooperation in the humanitarian sphere, science and space exploration, culture, education and establishing direct relations between universities and institutes of the two countries.
We understand that specialists from Ukraine will soon begin the construction of a thermo-electric power station in Ajaokuta that would supply electric power not only for the plant, but for the local inhabitants as well, how soon will the project start?
The restoration of a thermo-electric power station is the first and a very essential part of a phased plan of the reactivation of the Ajaokuta metallurgical plant. I suppose that the local inhabitants will benefit from the reactivation of the metallurgical plant and not only from electricity supply but from the creation of new labour places as well as prosperity of the local community and this cooperation will be of benefit to both sides. I don’t exactly know when work will start there but some Ukranian specialists are working on additional audit for the estimation of when they will start. Specialists and equipments for the work will come from my country while some specialists from Nigeria will also join them to do the work.
Apart from that project, what other areas of the Nigerian economy do you think the Ukraine business community is interested in?
Besides the projects in the metallurgical industry, Ukrainian business can also be involved in the Nigerian mining complex, construction of industrial enterprises and plants as well as objects of power generation and distribution, oil and gas pipelines construction, road and railway infrastructure development, sphere of civil engineering and other sectors of the Nigerian economy.
We learnt there are many Ukrainian firms in Nigeria, how well are they doing?
For this time the Ukrainian business community is not widely represented like we expected it to be. Most of the registered Ukrainian companies here operate in the sphere of metallurgy, civil and industrial construction. No wonder Nigeria is one of the attractive countries for doing business and in the nearest future we predict growth in quantity and diversification of Ukrainian firms installing businesses in Nigeria.
How can Ukraine contribute to the development of Nigeria’s energy and agricultural sectors?
Ukraine is a big country with a well developed power system consisting from nuclear power plants, hydroelectric and thermoelectric power stations and a wide range of electricity distributing companies. Ukraine exports electricity to the neighbouring countries. Ukrainian companies have a huge and invaluable experience of the power plants construction and modernization as well as installation of the electricity distribution networks all around the world. Taking into consideration that the Nigerian government applies substantial efforts to develop power infrastructure in the country, Ukraine can provide its great experience and capacity to extend the Nigerian power network. Moreover, some Ukrainian companies are already involved in negotiations with the Nigerian government and business-circles on different power projects. Ukraine and Nigeria have established good relations in the agricultural sector. It is not a secret that Ukraine is one of the largest suppliers of fertilizers to Nigeria. Supply and possible manufacturing of agricultural machinery, cooperation between research institutes in the field of soil and crop studies, zoning, construction of different types of warehouse space, the creation of capacity for processing agricultural products–this is just a short list of activities that can expand the boundaries of mutually beneficial partnerships between the two countries.
What are Ukraine’s investment potentials and how can Nigerian investors be attracted to invest in Ukraine?
The parliament of Ukraine has approved a foreign investment law allowing non-residents to purchase businesses and property, to repatriate revenue and profits, and to receive compensation if the property is nationalized by a future government. Moreover, the Ukrainian government started the program of investment reform in the framework of which the State Agency for Investment and National projects of Ukraine was set up. It is aiming for a radical improvement of the investment climate and the formation of the high-quality investment proposals. The large-scale economic projects which have the strategic importance for the entire sectors of the Ukrainian economy like LNG-terminal, industrial parks. The state has assumed the function of preparation of start-up of these projects (financing feasibility studies, land allocation, elimination of regulatory obstacles, and in some cases – also providing the state guarantees). Investment opportunities and current business projects include but not limited to agriculture, banking sector, financial services, insurance and leasing, software development, health care, sports and recreation infrastructure, real estate market.
Also Ukraine has a number of tax incentives for investors. This year the Ukrainian government launched the 1st International Annual Business Conference “ABC: Ukraine & Partners”. The Conference took place on June 13-14, 2013 in Kiev. The Nigerian delegation was one of the biggest among another 53 delegations from all around the world participating in this event.
There are cases of Nigerians in prisons abroad, do we have such cases in Ukraine?
The Embassy of Ukraine doesn’t possess any official information about Nigerians in Ukrainian prisons but we cannot exclude that there are some cases.
If any, is there any agreement between Nigeria and your country to transfer them back here to serve their jail terms?
The draft agreement for repatriation is under consideration of the governments of Nigeria and Ukraine. It will be one of the topics of discussion in future political consultation.
How many Nigerian students do we have in Ukrainian schools and how easy is it to go to school in your country?
According to data provided by the Ukrainian Immigration Service, currently it’s around 6000 Nigerian students studying in Ukraine. In 2012 about 800 students from Nigeria started studying in Ukraine. Each year from 15 to 20 scholarships were granted by the Ukrainian government for Nigerian students. Ukrainian education is very qualitative and popular all around the world, especially in medical and technical disciplines. But that means that Ukrainian teachers expect some advanced knowledge from the students. No one will teach you the basic things and sometimes this creates difficulties for Nigerian students who lack basic education from secondary school. Also, one of the most difficult factors is the weather condition, the last two winters were extremely cold with snowfall. That is why we ask from all applicants for study visa in Ukraine to get maximum knowledge of the country and environment before they go. Due to the increased number of requests on the part of Nigerians regarding the issue of student visas by the consular section, I would like to inform the readers of Daily Trust about the following: the Embassy of Ukraine has never authorized any unit, organization, agency, or person as agent for Ukraine visa application; to avoid crowds and to make process of acquiring visa interview more transparent an electronic system of registration for the interview has been installed on (visa-app.com.ua) at the embassy. I would also like to inform readers that visa fees for year 2013 are as follows: single entry visa – $85; double entry visa – $130; multiple entry visa – $200. Visa is issued within 15 days (in some cases it can be prolonged to 30 days). Express visa is issued within seven days and double fee is charged. According to Ukraine’s legislations, in case of refusal, visa fee is not refundable. All additional information about visa fees and requirements are at the embassy web site http://nigeria.mfa.gov.ua/en/visas and are updated on regular basis.
There were reported cases of maltreatment of Nigerian students in Ukraine sometimes back, what can you say on that?
The Embassy of Ukraine doesn’t possess any official information about cases of maltreatment of Nigerian students.
Nigeria is currently seeking membership of the UN Security Council seat and support of members, would Ukraine support her bid?
We can praise close cooperation between Ukraine and Nigeria within the framework of international organizations, where we have found a common language and established a mechanism of reciprocal support of candidates during the elections in various international bodies. It is important to mark out that Ukraine cast her vote in support of Nigeria for non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council for the term of 2010-2011 and is looking forward to cooperating with Nigeria on the UN Security Council on every aspect of its important agenda. In my personal opinion, Nigeria as one of the most powerful countries in the African region has a good reason to aspire to a non-permanent seat in UN Security Council for the term of 2014-2015. In conclusion, I’d like to wish all readers of Daily Trust strong health and prosperity and family happiness.