Two 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 Wednesday in Lagos at 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.
“France to Europe is widely known for innovation. And so is Nigeria to Africa – as we can see from the development of the Yabacon Valley, in Lagos. Our two countries can do much together. Links have already been developed between the CoCreation Hub and Paris&Co, in order to help exchanges between French and Nigerian start-ups. We must go further. Several Nigerian companies have taken part in the last VivaTech show in Paris. I hope their number will quickly increase over the next few years,” Mrs Geny-Stephann, added.
The Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Energy Finance (SUNREF) programme for 74 million Euros, to be co-financed by AFD and the European Union (EU), is geared towards energy effi- ciency and renewable energy investments in Nigeria. It was launched by Mr Remy Rioux, Director General of AFD, Herbert Wigwe, Managing Director of Access Bank, Victor Osadolor, Deputy Man- aging Director, UBA, Frank Udemba Jacobs, President of the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Mrs Geny-Stephann,.
On renewable energies, the French minister said they 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.”
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.”