One cannot talk of sea food, particularly stockfish without mentioning Norway. That is why people from various works of
life, including international traders, Norwegian and Nigerian government officials, and other stake holders in the Nigerian fishery industry converged at
Eko Hotels, Lagos for the Norwegian seafood seminar on networking relations for Norwegian stockfish, pelagic and
salmon in the Nigerian market.
Speaking at the event which was held recently, the Executive Director, Nigerian Institute of Marine Research and Oceanography, Dr. Gbolagade Akande, noted that Nigeria has been importing stockfish from Norway since the 1890s. A situation he described as a good
business relation between the two countries.
However, Dr. Gbolagade Akande, who represented the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, regretted that there was imbalance in the bilateral relationship between Norway and Nigeria, noting that
the development is to the disadvantage of the country.
Elucidating, he said, “There is trade imbalance in the bilateral relationship because Nigerian imports hugely from Norway but Norway cannot be said to be
taking anything from Nigeria. This is not good for our economy. That is why we are advocating for the need to invest and encourage research into the area of aquaculture and fishmeal production.
There is a lot of fish in our water that can support fishmeal production, but sadly Nigeria depends largely on importation of
fishmeal into the country. We want Norway to come and invest in fishmeal industry in Nigeria to close the gap in this trade imbalance.”
The minister said this is important
because Norway is not importing oil from Nigeria because Norway too has oil. He called on Norwegian government to look
at the seafood sector of agriculture where the two countries have many things in common and invest in it. He
described the seminar as another
opportunity for Nigeria and Norway to move forward in their business relations.
“Now we are talking of how to move forward and the way to go about that is to work on how we can bridge the disparity between demand and supply. To achieve this, the two countries will collaborate to inject money into research while Norway is particularly needed to set up fishmeal companies in Nigeria,” said Ogbe While pointing out that there is still a huge potential in the market, Ogbe put the demand of 180 million people population in Nigeria at 2.7million metric
tons, out of which he said Nigeria is only producing 1.7 metric tons.
The Norwegian Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Mr. Ronny Berg, expressed the wishes of the Norwegian government and exporters to assist the Nigerian fish importers trading with them in any legitimate way they can as well as in other fisheries sector like aquaculture in this period of Nigeria’s scarce foreign exchange and slow trade
in the non-oil sector.
Mr. Ronny Berg, who was represented by the Ambassador of Norway to Nigeria, Jens-Peter Kjemprud, also admitted that
there is a lot of opportunities in the seafood sector and promised that Norway is determined to collaborate with Nigeria to explore the sector. He, however, stated that the recent economic situation in the world has affected the sector like other areas of the
global economy but added that a lot is being done to boost production and create jobs, where necessary.
The ambassador also agreed with the Nigerian minister that Norway has been exporting stock fish to Nigeria since 1890s and that Norwegian seafood represents an important source of protein to many Nigerians. The ambassador, who pointed out that Nigeria is Norway’s biggest trading partner on the African continent, said:
“Nigeria and Norway have bilateral trade relations and we have been working closely together for more than 100 years.
We are investing in fish, especially stock fish, sardines, and mackerel, as well as oil.
Nigeria is a fertile land and that is why we will do more in our investment here.” He, however, called on the federal government to boost its provision of infrastructure such as power and tighter security for their investment to bloom in order to command more investment into
the country. He did acknowledge the fact that Nigerians are friendly people that do not discriminate against foreigners.
During the various presentations, it was gathered that Nigeria and Norway have long-standing traditions for seafood trade that is over a hundred years old.