The French Minister of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Mr. Franck Riester on Tuesday said the trade volume between Nigeria and France suffered a loss of over $2.2 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He told journalists in Abuja after a meeting with governors, that his country was also ready to assist Nigeria to battle insecurity.
Riester said: “Nigeria is indeed France’s first commercial partner in Sub-Saharan Africa: bilateral trade amounted to a total of $4.5 billion in 2019 ($2.3 billion in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Riester, who is on a two-day visit to Nigeria, said his visit was in line with the priorities set by French President, Mr. Emmanuel Macron, during his official visit to Nigeria in July 2018 and his willingness to change the narrative of the relations between Africa and France.
The minister is billed to meet top government functionaries and key private sector leaders in Abuja and Lagos, to stress the importance of bilateral economic relation between Nigeria and France.
He said France was a major financial partner for Nigeria, being the second bilateral creditor of Nigeria after China, through the involvement of French Development Agency (AFD).
AFD engaged more than 2 billion Euros in the last 10 years in over 35 development projects.
The minister said France would also dedicate financing and capacity building in the health sector in some Nigerian states.
“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 USA, China and Russia to developing countries,” he stated.
He described Nigeria as the first country in sub-Saharan Africa for French direct investments, adding that there are about 100 French companies, present in many sectors (health, energy, environment, logistics…), employing more than 10 000 people, mostly Nigerians, and contributing to vocational training.
As part of his visit to Lagos, he will open the “Choose Africa” conference on Macron’s 3.5 billion Euros initiative to support start-ups and SMEs in Africa, which Nigerian entrepreneurs have already benefited from.
The minister added the French government was ready to help Oyo State in the provision of over $50 million investment in healthcare matters.