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Jonathan Woos French Investors To Boost Nigeria’s Economic Fortunes

By Eric Ojo

President Goodluck Jonathan has urged French companies to invest in Nigeria in order to cement the ongoing favourable trade and investment relationship between both countries.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan

Trade between Nigeria and France has been on a rising growth path over the years and it is one of the fastest growth rates that have been witnessed between  the country and its  trading partners. It grew from N550 billion in 2008 to well over N1 trillion in 2012.

Speaking at the launching of the Nigeria-France Trade and Investment Council in Abuja on Thursday in Abuja, President Jonathan said the people of France, under the leadership of President Hollande, had shown an unprecedented level of commitment to Africa.

This century, according to him,  was Africa’s century, adding that over the last 100 years, the French people and French businesses had always been engrained in the Nigerian story

The launching of the Council which was held at the instance of the Nigeria-France Business Forum to mark Nigeria’s Centenary celebrations, is aimed at setting a target to double trade flows between both countries from the current N1.049 trillion to about N2.098 trillion  in four years.
The launching the Council which was signed in the presence of President Goodluck Jonathan and his counterpart, French President Francois Hollande, also has the mandate to increase investment flows between both countries by 50 per cent in the next four years.

In addition, the two Presidents also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on a $170m power financing deal between the Ministry of Finance and the Agence Francaise Developpement (AFD); and a 13MW Solar Power Construction MoU between the Osun State Government and Vergnet Groupe.

The council will be co-chaired by the Vice-Chairman of the Nigeria-France Chamber of Commerce and Chief Executive Officer of Leadway Assurance, Mr. Hassan Odukale; and the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of PAI, Mr. Lionel Zinsou.
The President noted that Nigeria  has come of age economically, adding that no time will be appropriate than now to invest in the country. He also observed that the country has made significant progress in critical areas including political, social and economic development.

I always say that Nigeria’s economic transformation will be the strongest legacy of our generation, which is why we have invited all you investors here today. A strong Nigerian economy will create wealth, improve living standards and ensure a stable political and social environment. This is why my focus since this administration assumed office in 2011 has been to fundamentally restructure and diversify the Nigerian economy, to ensure sustained growth and create jobs for our teeming youth” , he said

Also in his remarks at the event, the French President, who pledged increased investment by French companies in Nigeria, said his country was committed to boosting the strategic partnership between both countries.

“We have set a goal of increasing our market share in Nigeria. Three of our companies contribute to about 15,000 jobs in Nigeria but we have to invest more in the country. We must step up our efforts in the area training by our companies for Nigerian employees and increase investment because Nigeria is a great country,” he added.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, said Nigeria’s consumer market was worth well over $100bn and growing fast as the purchasing power of the citizens continued to rise.

Earlier in his address, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, said the Nigeria-France Business relationship is central to the present Nigeria’s economic agenda, adding that the forum was organised on the basis of that realization.

According to him, “For decades, France has believed in the potential of Nigeria; but more importantly, France has backed up its belief with real actions. This is because when the French believe, they invest. This is why the Nigeria-France Business relationship is central to our economic agenda; and this is why we have organised this forum here today”.

The Chief Executive Officer of Lafarge for Nigeria and the Republic of Benin, Mr. Guillaume Roux, who expressed the company’s commitment to building better cities in Nigeria, commended the Federal Government’s Backward Integration Policy in the cement sector.

This, he said, culminated in Lafarge’s investment of one billion euros, which grew the company’s capacity from three million metric tonnes to 8.5 million metric tonnes between 2008 and 2012.



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