Business Farming

Friday 30 September 2016

Magnate keen to strengthen ties with Ireland

Published 09/12/2015 | 02:30

Armed security is a fact of life in Nigeria for westerners. The Irish ambassador travels in an armored jeep.
Armed security is a fact of life in Nigeria for westerners. The Irish ambassador travels in an armored jeep.

Minister Simon Coveney met a series of very influential men during his few days in Nigeria, including the newly appointed Nigerian Minister for Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who revealed that his Christian Brother education at the hands of Irish priests had been formative years in his schooling.

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While the number of Irish missionaries working in the country is now less than 10pc of the 1,000 that were based in schools and churches around the country in the 1970s, the linkage is a valuable one for Irish businesses.

The delegation also met with Sani Dangote, the vice president of a family business that is headed up his brother Aliko. The latter is ranked as Africa's richest man sitting on a fortune worth over €17.5bn. The company has strong interests in food production and Sani Dangote is the head of a powerful agri-business association in Nigeria.

The business magnate indicated that he intends visiting Ireland to strengthen contacts with Irish institutions such as Teagasc that he feels would have a role in developing a woefully under-developed Nigerian agriculture sector. Many of the 2.7 million dairy cows average just 0.5-1 litre of milk per day, and huge tracts of the country lie unfarmed.

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