By Elvis Iruh

The much anticipated 2013 Nigeria-Netherlands Business Forum picked off to today in The Hague to a bright start with strong emphasis on building closer ties with the Netherlands in the area of business investments and vast opportunities made available by the Nigeria government to welcome new partners from the private and government sectors in the Netherlands to Nigeria.

In her opening address, Her Excellency, Ambassador N.N. Akanbi (OON) thanked all the state Governors particularly that of Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed and his Sokoto State Counterpart, Alhaji Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, and others that were ably represented , the Honourable Minister of Water Resources of Nigeria, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe, the Deputy Governor of Central bank of Nigeria, Dr. Kingsley Moghalu, Mr. De Vries of Ministry of Economic Affairs, The Hague, Mr. B. Van der Bijl, managing Director of Netherlands-African Business council, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, President of National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture of Nigeria (NACCIMA), Mr. Igo Weli of Shell Nigeria among others.

She called the Nigerian business delegates to ensure that they properly network with the Dutch counterparts so that their visit would have been worthwhile in the Netherlands.

She wished the participants a very happy and fruitful deliberation during the four days business forum, the third of its nature organized by Her Excellency since her assumption as Nigeria's Ambassador to the Netherlands.

Other speakers included the Governor of Kwara State who elaborated on his government success stories in the area of Agriculture and education and capacity building which would see young people trained in specific skills and provided with loans to establish businesses in the state and elsewhere.

Similarly the Minister of Water Resources gave a presentation on the activities of her ministry and areas where they expect the Dutch to come and invest in Nigeria, her paper was titled, 'Investment opportunities in the Water sector in Nigeria'

There were presentations from Heineken and Shell, two major sponsors of the 2013 Business Forum.

Governor Ahmed of Kwara State, Minister Ochekpe, Dr. Moghalu and Mr. Hiemstra made up a panel that was feed with questions from the audience and answers were given on areas of investment, power generating, oil and gas and business security in Nigeria.

After the lunch break, the forum broke into two separate groups for bilateral meetings, networking and workshops/match making sessions that lasted all afternoon till late evening before dinner was served.

Day was quite satisfactory from both the Nigerian Embassy and the Netherlands-African Business Council.

The forum continues tomorrow, 5/6/2013 at 10am. You are invited to join with just a registration of 299 euros.