Fireside Chat: Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria Speaks on Advancing Bilateral Relations


Fireside Chat: Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria Speaks on Advancing Bilateral Relations

The Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, His Excellency James Christoff, on Tuesday, October 10, 2023, joined the Lagos Business School (LBS) community for a fireside chat themed “Advancing Bilateral Relations: Enhancing Trade, Investment and Educational Collaborations between Canada and Nigeria.”

The conversation was hosted by the Dean, Professor Chris Ogbechie, who kicked off the conversation by asking Mr. Christoff about the existing opportunities
for business and investment between Nigeria and Canada.

Some Highlights of the Conversation below:

Nigeria is Canada’s largest trading partner in Africa.

Mr. Christoff noted that Nigeria is Canada’s largest bilateral trade partner on the African continent, with trade volume totaling $2.2 billion in 2022 alone. He was therefore delighted to meet with members of the Lagos Business School community, thanking Professor Ogbechie for the opportunity to speak and interact with staff, students, and alumni of the premier business school on the African continent. “Canada is a trading nation, and Nigeria is Canada’s largest trading partner in Africa. The value is about a little over two billion dollars yearly, but it should be much more. That is why my team, and I are keen on acknowledging areas where there’s opportunity for both countries,” he said.

Opportunities for economic growth

The High Commissioner acknowledged the tough economic conditions currently faced by Nigerians. “There are several economic challenges faced by everyday Nigerians, but those challenges will be best addressed by private sector initiatives. Canada offers opportunities around agriculture, green energy, technology, and education.”
Speaking on the issue of rising unemployment in Nigeria, Mr. Christoff stated that it is a multifaced problem with no simple solutions, however he highlighted Nigeria’s entrepreneurial spirit and resilience as critical factors needed to make an impact, stressing the need for an enabling environment.

Export Channels for Nigerian Businesses

He emphasized that Canada is a trading nation and is open to opportunities, pointing out that the Nigerian High Commission in Ottawa has the responsibility to drive and facilitate export opportunities from Nigeria to Canada.

Existing Pathways for Migrants

The High Commissioner said that Canada needs skilled professionals, students, and unskilled labor to contribute to its economic growth. He stated that these were the primary pathways for migration and recommended that anyone wishing to migrate to Canada should identify the existing opportunities in Canada and how best to align their skills to those opportunities. He highlighted that Nigerians in Canada contribute significantly to its public and social life, and added that many of such Nigerians support their families back in Nigeria and towards economic growth.

The fireside chat was followed by questions from the audience, moderated by the director of the LBS Public Sector Initiative, Dr Franklin Ngwu.

Delivering the closing remarks, the Chief Marketing Officer, Lagos Business School, Nsima Ogedi-Alakwe thanked His Excellency, James Christoff for an illuminating conversation and expressed the hope that it would be the beginning of an ongoing dialogue to explore avenues for collaboration, to the benefit of Nigeria and Canada.

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