Nigeria’s two leading banks, Access Bank and United Bank for Africa (UBA) have partnered with foreign development agency of France, Agence Francais de Development (AFD), to invest €74 million in renewable energy, just as the French Secretary of State to the Minister of Economy and Finance, Mrs Delphine Geny-Stephann, has pledged skill transfer from their companies.
According to the minister, who gave the promise in Lagos at the France-Nigeria Business Forum, French companies are widely-recognised for their expertise in renewable energy, Agriculture, technology and smart cities development, adding that the two countries can do much together to help exchanges between their start-ups.
On renewable energies, the French minister said partnerships are also key to rise to the challenge of climate change. “One can already find examples of cooperation on this question. “But we can do much more for the welfare of Nigerian people to offer a better access to electricity. Renewable energies are also key in rising to the challenge of climate change.”
It was launched by Mr Remy Rioux, Director General of AFD, Herbert Wigwe, Managing Director of Access Bank, Victor Osadolor, Deputy Managing Director, UBA, Frank Ubemba Jacobs, President of the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Mrs Geny-Stephann. Mrs Geny-Stephann, however, lamented that the relationship between the two countries is nowhere near what it should be, given the importance of Nigeria as an emerging power.
She added: “ In the past 10 years, our trade volume has been more or less stagnant. The variations in the price of oil are not a sufficient explanation. Sure, French investments in Nigeria have developed. But for 80 per cent of them, they only come from the extracting sector. These figures are not what should be expected in a relationship with a major emerging economy. We have to address this challenge together, both in France and Nigeria.
“Our companies are widely recognised for their expertise on all the topics, to begin with. Agriculture is fundamental here in Nigeria: it accounts for a fifth of your economy and nearly half of your population makes a living from it. The potential of this sector is huge. And French companies have much to bring you in this challenge – as our agriculture and our food-processing industry rank among the best and most efficient in Europe!
“On the building of sustainable cities, which is a major challenge for tomorrow. And I doubt there is a city in Africa where this challenge is both more important and more interesting than in Lagos – the most populated city on the continent. Lagos embodies the challenges, the difficulties but also the huge opportunities of African cities. Thanks to the AFD – our aid to foreign development agency – two hundred million euros will soon come to help setting up an efficient public transportation system in Lagos.”
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