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Canada-Nigeria Relations

Canada-Nigeria Relations

Canada and Nigeria established diplomatic relations at Nigeria’s independence in 1962. In Nigeria, Canada is represented by its High Commission, which opened in Abuja in 1999. Canada also has a Deputy High Commission, which opened in Lagos in 1999. Canada was previously represented in Nigeria by a High Commission located in Lagos from 1960 to 1997, when it was closed due to the political situation. Since 2004, Canada has an Honorary Consul in Port Harcourt. Nigeria is represented in Canada by a High Commission, which opened in Ottawa in 1973.

Canada enjoys strong and increasing bilateral relations with Nigeria, which is one of two strategic partners for Canada in sub-Saharan Africa. We share values such as multiculturalism, institutions such as federalism and Commonwealth membership, and people-to-people ties which provide a solid foundation for increased engagement.

Recent high-level visits have served to strengthen the bilateral partnership:

  • Nigeria’s then Foreign Ministers, Chief Ojo Maduekwe and the Honourable Henry Odein Ajumogobia, made official visits to Ottawa in December 2009 and March 2011 respectively.
  • Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan travelled to Canada in June 2010 to attend the G8 Summit.
  • Mr. Deepak Obhrai, the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs, attended Nigeria’s Golden Jubilee of Independence celebrations in Abuja on October 1st, 2010 as the Prime Minister of Canada’s Special Representative.
  • Parliamentary Secretary Obhrai again represented Canada at the inauguration of President Jonathan on May 29, 2011.
  • In April 2012, Nigerian Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru visited Ottawa, where he and Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird signed the Memorandum of Understanding to Establish a Bi-National Commission, which covers four major themes: political relations, commercial relations, security cooperation and development cooperation.
  • In September 2012, Minister of International Cooperation Julian Fantino traveled to Nigeria to discuss health issues, the Sahel and economic growth.
  • In October 2012, Minister Baird went to Abuja to co-chair the inaugural meeting of the Bi-National Commission and to Lagos to meet Nigerian business leaders.
  • In January 2013, Minister of International Trade Ed Fast led a Canadian Trade Mission to Abuja and Lagos. During this visit, he co-chaired the second meeting of the Bi-National Commission with his counterpart, Nigerian Trade Minister Olusegun Aganga.
  • In early May 2013, Nigerian Vice President Namadi Sambo led a delegation of several state governors and ministers, including the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Trade, to Canada for the May 2-4 Canada Nigeria Investment Conference in Toronto. During his sojourn in Canada, the Vice President met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa. Minister Baird and Minister Fast also met with Nigerian Foreign Minister Ashiru and Nigerian Trade Minister Aganga in Ottawa during this time. Finally, Parliamentary Secretary Obhrai and Ms. Lois Brown, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation, both attended the Nigeria Investment Conference, where they met and exchanged with several Nigerian ministers in attendance.

Canada welcomes Nigeria’s leadership in African and global affairs, most notably through its significant contribution to international peace operations. In 2005, Nigeria became a major troop contributor to the African Union’s Mission in Sudan, and the subsequent United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur. Nigeria is now the second largest troop contributing African nation to UN peacekeeping operations and the fifth largest globally, with around 4,700 personnel deployed in Darfur and Liberia alone. Since January 2013, Nigeria has contributed over 1,000 military personnel and several aircraft in support of the UN Security Council-mandated African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA). From 2005 to 2009, Canada provided equipment and training for Nigerian troops participating in the AU/UN mission in Darfur, Sudan. Nigeria has been a member of the Military Training and Cooperation Programme (MTCP) since 1965 and over 200 Nigerian military members have received training through this programme.

Canada recognizes and appreciates Nigeria’s leading role in the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which is among the strongest and most coherent of Africa’s international institutions. ECOWAS plays a key regional role in resolving armed conflict and political crises, as in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger and Sierra Leone; handling security issues such as illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, terrorism and human trafficking; and promoting regional economic integration.

At $2.33 billion in two-way merchandise trade in 2012, the commercial relationship with Nigeria is Canada’s largest in sub-Saharan Africa. Canada’s exports to Nigeria have increased significantly since 2003 and were $326.6 million in 2012. Canada’s imports from Nigeria are made up mostly of oil. Bilateral trade between Canada and Nigeria has been facilitated by the return to Nigeria of Export Development Canada (EDC), which in March 2011 announced a $7 million investment fund through which it helps develop opportunities in Nigeria for Canadian companies. The fund is focused on sectors which mirror Canada’s strongest export sectors, notably oil and gas, telecommunication and financial services.

The Canadian business presence in Nigeria is substantial and multi-faceted. Canadian interests cover a full range of key sectors, including agriculture, minerals, oil and gas, telecommunications, manufacturing, aeronautics, energy, and engineering and education services. New areas with high potential for growth are mining technology as well as transportation. Recent and ongoing efforts to reform the banking sector stand to establish a more conducive foreign investment environment, creating potential opportunities for Canadian firms.

Canada signed a Double Taxation Agreement with Nigeria in 1992. On May 1, 2013, Prime Minister Harper announced the conclusion of negotiations towards the Canada-Nigeria Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). Minister Fast and his Nigerian counterpart, Minister Aganga, signed a Declaration of Intent to sign the FIPA on a priority basis as soon as feasible.

In the area of development assistance, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) is focusing its bilateral program, which totalled almost $26 million in fiscal 2011-2012, to support key government health institutions to deliver high-impact and cost-effective maternal and child health interventions at the community level. This assistance is aimed at reducing the maternal mortality rate (MMR) in Nigeria, which is high at 630 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010. The neonatal, infant and under-five mortality rates are similarly high. In 2010, over 850,000 Nigerian children under five years old died, which is about 10% of the global child mortality figure.

Bilateral support is also provided in the area of democratic governance. Canada provided support to the 1999, 2003 and 2007 elections and also has an ongoing project running until 2015 to support the long-term electoral cycle. In September 2010, Canada sponsored technical assistance to Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission.  Canada continues to provide support to groups and institutions that work to strengthen democracy, accountability and good governance in Nigeria.

May 2013


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Date Modified:
2014-01-17