Ireland’s backing is sought for next wave of Nigerian business and industry leaders
2013-12-01 17:45 -

Ireland has been urged to establish strong partnerships with Nigerian academic institutions as a way of strengthening their capabilities to produce future business leaders.The dean of Lagos Business School pushed for connections to be made at a recent educational reception in Nigeria’s commercial capital to mark the Irish Government’s first trade visit to the west African country.

According to Dr Enase Okonedo, Nigeria needed to establish more educational institutions for its population – the largest in the African continent – or opportunities for them to study abroad. 
This would cater, she said, for the “avalanche of foreign companies coming to Africa, especially Nigeria, that need [local] managers who are in shortfall.”
In his own address, Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello said Ireland is best placed to partner with Nigeria’s educational sector. 
He revealed that some 26,000 students from all over the world are currently studying in Ireland, generating €16m fee income for the State annually, and that the Government plans to double those number by 2016.
In an interview with Metro Éireann in Lagos, Minister Costello said the visit “has been great” for both Ireland and Nigeria.
“We are finding very enthusiastic, receptive companies who are anxious to partner with Irish companies,” he said, “and we signed quite a large number of contractual agreements, where institutes in Ireland and colleges establishing partnerships with similar institutes in Africa and this is certainly positive on the education side which we are focusing on.”
Minister Costello commented on the “strong link traditionally” between Nigeria and Ireland “going back to the missionaries” which left a lasting legacy of education and health service standards and said he hoped the trade mission, while essentially a business trip, would provide for many “opportunities for engagement and new partnerships to be built” in future.
During the visit, which included the opening of a Nigerian office for agribusiness industry leader Kerry Group, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced that new contracts totalling over €7m have been secured in both South Africa and Nigeria, with agreements for significant business collaboration across the telecommunications, financial services and education sectors.
“This was a highly successful mission both in terms of business secured and introductions and connections made,” the minister added. “It is truly encouraging to see Irish companies continuing to win new business in South Africa, and deeply satisfying to watch Enterprise Ireland working with innovative Irish companies to help them break into developing markets like Nigeria.”
Among many of the agreements in Nigeria, Hybrid Energy Solutions Ltd announced details of a deal with Airtel Nigeria to improve its network availability and massively reduce operating costs.
Meanwhile, Dublin International Foundation College (DIFC) signed an agreement with the Professional Global Training Institute (PGTI) – also known as Greenville Schools – to establish education programmes in Nigeria and Ireland for Nigerian students who want to study medicine, business and engineering at Irish and other EU universities.
In addition, the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Yaba College of Technology in Lagos.
Minister Costello and his department led 37 Irish companies that participated in Enterprise Ireland’s trade mission to South Africa and Nigeria.

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