Nigeria and Benin Republic are making some moves to to remove a number of trade barriers between the two nations, including opening the Seme border.
Nigeria’s Ambassador to Benin, Emmanuel Oguntuase, gave the hint in an interview with journalists in Cotonou recently after presenting his letter of credence to President Patrice Talon of Benin.
He also urged investors in the two nations to take advantage of the situation.
According to Oguntuase, ultramodern scanners would be installed at the border to monitor and record the movement of goods between the two countries.
He said, “By the middle of the year, we should be able to open the border. Once it is opened, there will be no room for anybody to pass through any illegal route. Most of the trading activities will become legalised and then we can record them. We are bringing in scanners. Then, we would be able to give statistics and figures.”
The ambassador noted that investment opportunities existed in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, banking, Information and Communication Technology.
However, he urged the people to follow due process, noting that there were set rules and regulations that must be complied with in order to have smooth and rewarding transactions.
Oguntuase said, “We are already discussing with the government to create an enabling environment for Nigerians to come as we are also encouraging the citizens of the Republic of Benin to go to Nigeria because they are also eyeing our big market.
“The population of this place is 12 million, which is less than Lagos and you cannot compare it with 195 million Nigerians. Again, opportunities abound here and the embassy has positioned itself to facilitate and encourage our investors.”
He also said, “I have been meeting with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry; we have been meeting with Ogun investors too as well as NACCIMA. We have a very good trade and investment networking.”
He called on the Nigerian business community in Benin Republic to integrate with their counterparts in the host country, noting, “Some of them are living in communities alone; they should join their host chamber of commerce. I have told them to integrate wherever they are so that if they make a law that is against them, they will know how to fight it within; but if they are not part of it, they may lose out.”
On the joint venture between Nigeria and Benin Public, the ambassador said, “We have the Onigboolo Cement Industry and then we have a sugar plant. The Onigboolo Cement Industry has been privatised to Lafarge and Dangote. The only existing one is the sugar plant.”