Africa can become `new’ Asia, says Bulgarian lawmaker

ABUJA- Vladislav Panev, a Bulgarian lawmaker, says Africa can become the new Asia if its leaders can harness its economic potentials and provide better infrastructure.

The parliamentarian said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja while on a 5-day visit to Nigeria at the invitation of the Nigerian National Assembly.

Panev, who is also the Chairman of the Bulgaria-Nigeria Parliamentary Friendship Group, said the invitation was to enable the group to discuss ways to further advance the bilateral relations between both countries.

Panev said that Bulgarian entrepreneurs were to invest in Nigeria to improve its infrastructure and to further strengthen the more than 60-year relationship between both countries.

“We are ready to invest here in Nigeria. Our infrastructure companies and energy companies – the renewable ones, the grid ones – are ready to invest in maintaining the Nigerian grid.

“Also, our industrial companies, pharmaceuticals are ready to invest in Nigeria.

“I believe that the prosperity of Nigeria and Africa will come from better infrastructure and better relations between African countries themselves. I also believe that Africa is the new Asia.

“I believe that Asia, 30 years ago, was at the level of economic development as it is for Africa presently.

“I believe that in 30 years’ time, Nigeria will reach the level or has the potential to reach the levels of countries like China and other prosperous Asian countries.

“That’s why I believe now is the right moment to invest here in spite of all the difficulties, in spite of the financial issues and so on,’’ he said.

Speaking on how much Bulgarian entrepreneurs are willing to invest in Nigeria, Panev said, “I do not have the exact numbers but I believe that our trade with Nigeria is in millions of U.S. dollars.

“30 years ago, Bulgaria’s Gross Domestic Product was 1,000 U.S. dollars per capita yearly.

“Currently, it is 16,000 U.S. dollars per capita. So, our potential for investment in Nigeria and countries such as Nigeria is enormous.

“Also our specialists and companies are very well-positioned in Europe and I believe they can be well positioned in Africa as well, in key sectors of Nigeria’s infrastructure and energy industry and so on, that will make Nigeria prosperous.’’

He called for the development and nurturing of people-to-people relationships across all levels as it has the potency to ensure national growth and progress.

He told NAN that what has contributed to the stability of Bulgaria was the ability of its leaders to include the different ethnic groups in the country in the scheme of things.

According to him, the inclusiveness deployed by the leaders engendered mutual understanding and respect for all.

“If you behave well with others, then they will appreciate you, however, we had our issues during these hundred years. Now in our delegations we have one ethnic Turk who is a prominent member of our parliament.

“So we can freely discuss the issues of the past and the future with all the ethnicities who live in Bulgaria.

“So the good relations between the different ethnicities within Bulgaria kept Bulgaria intact for the last century and so this is the main reason for our unity,’’ he said. (NAN)

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