By Franklin Alli
THE European Union has so far spent over 575 million Euros (about N200 billion) on Nigeria to strengthen its business environment and investment climate with a view to get the country sign the West Africa-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
A breakdown of the figure showed that 11 million Euro was spent on Nigeria Quality Infrastructure, NQI; 165 Million Euro on Nigeria’s Power sector ; EU also made 17 million Euro equity investment in Development Bank of Nigeria, DBN; while the Union also channelled 87 million Euro through its Investment Bank (EIB) to strengthen Nigeria’s SMEs sector.
Filippo Amato, Trade Counsellor, Head of the Trade Economic Section, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said that EU is one of the largest donors in Nigeria (active in: economic cooperation and energy; democracy, governance, migration; health, nutrition, resilience – support to ECOWAS: peace, security, regional trade and economic integration).
In his presentation during Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN)’s roundtable session with the theme ‘Leveraging on China – Nigeria Economic Relations to Re-Industrialise the Economy, he said :
“ *The EU plays a key role in providing support to private sector development, business environment and trade facilitation in Nigeria and in the ECOWAS region.”
“Under the West Africa Competitiveness Programme, the Nigeria component, implemented by GIZ, is an 11 million Euro project that seeks to improve competitiveness and exports through value chain development.
“The project is implemented in 7 states including Kano and it focuses on 4 value chains namely: tomato (including pepper and chilli), ginger, leather and garments.
The project is targeted at improving the performance and growth of farmers and industry/processors, including contributions to regional and global exports in the selected value chains and improving the climate for businesses at national and regional levels.
“It is worth to mention that under the 10th EDF, the EU has funded a Nigerian Competitiveness Support Programme that, among its success stories, are: “Improved the business environment in Kaduna and Kano states; supported the Nigerian government and the National Assembly in the adoption of a Competition and Consumer Protection Bill, which as you know has been recently signed by the President.
“Also, EU contributed to the establishment of a National Quality Infrastructure in Nigeria, including the drafting of a National Quality Policy, the establishment, and incorporation of a National Accreditation board which is now operational; the construction of a National Metrological Institute in Enugu; the establishment of National Technical Regulation bodies; the organisation of a Nigeria National Quality Award in line with the ECOWAS quality award process.”
He said that in the Power sector, the EU is providing a comprehensive package to support both the improvement of the public sector-led interventions and boost the investments from the private sector (165m EUR under the 11th EDF).
“In this sector, blending operations are meant to play a key role. Out of the total amount, 98 million are for blending operations that look at investing across the whole value chains.
“The European Investment Bank (EIB) has also made significant investments in the country. Since 2010, the EIB has disbursed EUR 296 million under 7 facilities signed with 9 Nigerian banks, of which EUR 210 million was disbursed to 50 sub-projects for on-lending in foreign currency, averaging EUR 4.5 million per project. The sectors covered include wholesale & retail trade, education, manufacturing, construction, transportation, accommodation, human health, information & communication, electricity & gas, agriculture, scientific & technical activities.
“In 2018 the EIB provided EUR 17 million equity participation into the newly established Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), which is intended for financial intermediaries’ on-lending mainly to MSMEs in local currency.
“In Nigeria, the EIB currently has EUR 87 million committed through funds, making it Number 1 among the ACP countries in terms of the amounts invested into SMEs and Mid-Caps. Since 2003, these investments have been made into 90 companies, of which EUR 850 million have been indirect investments and EUR 113 million direct investments. The present portfolio includes 65 companies.
“Last but not least, another important instrument that would boost trade and attract investments to Nigeria, contributing to economic growth and job creation, is the EPA. I already mentioned above how the EPA could support the local industry (by lowering duties on some essential industrial inputs imported from the EU, and removing all EU duties on imports from Nigeria).
However, the EPA would need a focused session to be explained in detail, and I hope we will soon have an occasion to organise a focused dialogue with MAN in this respect,” he said.