By Omodele Adigun
The European Union (EU) will spend €150 million (N50 billion) on the development of power sector in Nigeria, just as accessing long term finance for the sector and identifying opportunities in the textile industry will dominate discussion at the 5th European Union-Nigeria Business Forum (EUNBF) next week in Lagos.
According to Mr. Michel Arrion, the Ambassador/Head of Delegation of EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, who disclosed this at the 5th edition of EUNIBF pre-event news conference on Wednesday in Lagos, the grant would be used mainly for the training of young engineers and funding of some technical aspects of the sector.
He explained that EU is collaborating with National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) to inject young engineers into the sector. The Ambassador described the energy sector as an important aspect of the Nigerian economy, saying that nothing would work well if the sector is not adequately funded.
“The EU is already financing a transmission project in Kastina State and we have spent over €5 million (about N1.6 billion) on it,’’ he said. Arrion said the forthcoming business forum would seek to strengthen the EU-Nigeria business relations through identification of opportunities in the global textile value chain and expose Nigerian SMEs to opportunities in the EU market through the platform of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). Apart from these, the forum will also “explore the financing options available for funding of the power sector and diversifying the energy mix in the country.”
Arrion explained that the EUNBF is a collaborative effort of the European Union and its member states present in Nigeria, and has held every year since 2012. “It serves as a platform for investors and business people to interact to gather essential market information and build strategic partnerships to boost domestic investments and access to the EU market,” he added.
Also, Mr. Filippo Amato, the Counsellor, Head of Trade and Economics Section of EU, said that EU has granted over €750 million to Nigeria between 2008 and 2013. Amato said that €512 million had been spent from 2015 to date.
He said that 2016 business forum would take place in Lagos from November 10 to 11 with the theme, “Harnessing Nigeria’s Potential for Economic Growth.”
Speaking on the need to reverse the downward trend in trade between the two partners, Arrion said: “The EU is the top destination for oil and non-oil exports from Africa’s largest economy. In 2014 alone, Nigeria’s total trade with the EU stood at €39 billion with the EU accounting for 31 per cent of Nigeria’s total trade. EU Investment stock in Nigeria grew from €23.8 billion in 2013 to €25.3 billion in 2014. However, with the fall in oil prices, EU-Nigeria trade declined by 26.7 per cent to €29billion in 2015. Nigerian exports to EU declined by 35 per cent while imports declined by seven per cent over the period. Unfortunately, about 97 per cent of the exports to the EU are oil and gas.”
He explained that to reverse the trend, “key private sector actors and policy makers in Nigeria will have the opportunity to exchange business ideas with their counterparts from Europe during the 5th European Union-Nigeria Business Forum EUNBF.
“This year’s event is themed ‘Harnessing Nigeria’s Potential for Economic Growth’ and will focus on creating opportunities for EU and Nigerian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to increase their businesses through the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN); identify opportunities in the textile value chain; and proffer options for accessing long term finance for the critical power sector in Nigeria.’
Also, Mr Filippo Amato, the Counsellor, Head of Trade and Economics Section of EU, said that EU has granted over 750 million Euros to Nigeria between 2008 and 2013.
Amato said that 512 million Euros had been spent from 2015 to date.
He said that 2016 business forum would take place in Lagos from Nov.10 to 11 with the theme: “Harnessing Nigeria’s Potential for Economic Growth’’.
Amato said that key speakers lined up for the event include Gov. Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos State and Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State.
Others are President of the African Development Bank (AFDB), Mr Akinwumi Adesina, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, and Minister of Works, Housing and Land, Mr Babatunde Fashola.
He said that the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma and the State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Slovak Republic, Lukas Parizek, would attend the forum.