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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) shakes hand with President of Nigeria Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Image Credit: AFP

New Delhi: Nigeria has signed a multi-billion dollar deal with an Indian investment agency to support infrastructure projects including power, rails, warehousing and ports in Africa’s most populous nation.

The agreement, signed on September 6 with Invest India, is expected to help the West African country industrialize its agriculture and manufacturing sectors and cut reliance on imports, the head of the government-backed infrastructure vehicle said Friday.

“We are looking at increasing the productivity of our agricultural sector by industrializing it,” Lazarus Angbazo, CEO of Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria Limited (InfraCorp), said in an interview in India. Agriculture represents about 40 per cent of Nigeria’s economy, he added. “If we really want to have the biggest impact, that’s where we’re going to have to start.”

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It’s the latest in a string of deals between the two nations as Nigeria, a country of more than 200 million people, seeks to plug an infrastructure deficit and stimulate economic growth. To do this, it needs at least $3 trillion over 30 years, Angbazo said.

“We’ve got a gap of about $125 billion annually and we’re probably spending somewhere in the neighborhood of about $10 billion a year,” he said.

InfraCorp is a government-backed infrastructure investment vehicle that is co-owned by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) and Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority. The agency is primarily focused on transport and logistics with a potential initial investment of up to N163 billion ($212 million).

The partnership is expected to help Nigeria expand its ports so that it can process more shipping containers, Angbazo said.

“For a country of our size, we should have a container processing capacity of about 50 million containers,” he said. “We’re doing four, so you can see the gap.”

Angbazo did not disclose the dollar amounts expected from the deal.