Nigeria, a powerhouse in Africa – Macron

France President, Emmanuel Macron, says Nigeria  is   a  powerhouse   in   Africa  and that informs why his country is building a tight and diverse cooperation with the Africa’s most populous nation.

Macron stated this on Wednesday in Paris at the Nigeria international Partnership Forum (NIPF), a high-level event on the sidelines  of the Paris Peace Forum.

The one-day event was attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, ministers and business moguls from Nigeria and France.

The event was oganised to bring together the Nigerian and French governments including private sectors in wide-ranging discussions focused on security, regional stability, trade and industrialisation.

The event is also to attract investment to Nigeria, bridge existing infrastructure gaps, spotlight Nigeria’s immense trade and investment opportunities and reset false and distorted narratives about the country.

Macron who was represented by French Minister of Foreign Trade and Economy, Mr Franck Reister, said his country and  Nigeria   shared   many   strategic   interests.

“France may seem a distant partner for Nigeria, even when it is surrounded by  French speaking countries  with  whom  France shares a long history and where our companies have a strong foothold.

“However, the reality is actually quite different : because France  mainly,   is   Nigeria’s   second financial   bilateral   partner   after   China, with   around   3   Billion Euros of loans to the federal government.

“Nigeria  is  also   our   first   trading   partner   on  the continent and a very strategic one in the oil and gas sector since more than 10 per cent of our gas supply comes directly from Nigeria.

“More   than   100   French   companies   are   present   in Nigeria  whereas  almost  20 per cent  of   French  Foreign  DirectI investment in sub-saharian Africa are directed to Nigeria,” he said.

“In 2019, the stock in Nigeria reached the very impressive amountof 9.7 Billion Euros and would like to stress that we have longstanding and intense cultural, academic and scientific relations,” he said.

He went further than, “Our cultural and   cooperation   network   in   Nigeria   is   quite   unique,   with   11cultural centers throughout the country, all dedicated to promote the   ties   between   our   two   societies.”

Macron described France   also  as  a   great supporter   of   the vibrant   cultural   creativity   of   the Nigerian  people,  as  witnessed for  instance, during the   recent Africa 2020 season.

He noted that his country was committed to  the stability of the Sahel region and the safety of maritime trade routes of the Gulf of Guinea.

Macron recalled that a week before now, the   Nigerian   Navy participated in the exercise Grand African Nemo, organised by the  French   Navy. 

He said the  successful  operation  underscored  the great cooperation potential between both navies.

Macron, however, noted that in spite of these remarkable facts and figures, the trade relations between both countries had remained below its true potential.

“I  believe   that   we   have   much   to   build   together to   give   bilateral   trade   a   new   impetus.

‘Nigerian people’s entrepreneurial spirit is also well known, and certainly the most dynamic among their peers in Africa.

“Of   course,   challenges   remain   on   multiple   fronts,   and I commend   the   Nigerian   government   for   tackling   those   topics head on,” he said.

Macron said that more than 100  French businesses in Nigeria had created more than 10,000 jobs in  Nigeria and were supporting the local communities where they were based,

” French entrepreneurs are constantly setting foot in Nigeria to invest in a wide range of sectors, from energy to digital, from agriculture   to   environment.

” It   is   not   always   easy   but   their commitment bears fruits. And I encourage all French companies present today to follow on their footsteps and get inspired by their example,” he said.

Macron assured that both French authorities and companies were committed to support the ambition of turning Nigeria into astrong industrial country, less dependent on oil and gas and imports.

He said the commitment informed  why   the   French   Agency   for   Development   had invested,   over   the   last   10   years,   in   multiple   sectors   such   asinfrastructure, transports, energy, creative industries and sports.

“And this is also why the French Treasury has decided to allocate to   your government  a   loan of more   than 50 milion Euro which will be the first for the Treasury since 1990 and the firstever French loan in the healthcare sector in Nigeria,” he said

The president assured that the France-Nigeria Business Council would be a catalyst to cementing cooperation and investments.