The French Government is opening the “Choose Africa” conference on President Emmanuel Macron’s 3.5 billion Euros initiative to support start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on the continent, which Nigerian entrepreneurs had benefited from.
France’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Franck Riester, who made the disclosure yesterday during a meeting with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) in Abuja, added that his home country was willing to finance and build capacity in some of the states’ health sectors.
He regretted that the bilateral trade between both countries totalling $4.5 billion in 2019 crashed to $2.3 billion in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Noting that Nigeria is first country in Sub-Saharan Africa for France’s direct investments, Riester said there were about 100 French companies developing different sectors of the Nigerian economy.
He added that the firms had employed more than 10,000 people, mostly Nigerians, and contributed to vocational training.
The minister continued: “France is a major financial partner for Nigeria, being the second bilateral creditor after China. Thanks to the involvement of French Development Agency (AFD). It expended more than two billion Euros in the last 10 years on over 35 development projects.
“France is also one of the major partners of the COVAX initiative. Last February, President Macron stated that the failure to share vaccines would entrench global inequality and proposed sending part of the coronavirus vaccine supplies owned by European countries, the United States of America, China and Russia to developing countries.”
Responding on behalf of the forum, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State clarified that the gathering was to strengthen collaboration between the states and the French government, particularly in the area of investment.