18 September 2014, Lagos – The European Union (EU) said yesterday it had concluded plans to spend about €600 million in Nigeria over the next five years.
Most of the spending, it noted, is targeted at helping Nigeria to attract private sector foreign investments into the country’s power sector as well as to boost food security.
The Ambassador, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mr. Michael Arrion, explained that the amount represents about five per cent of the EU’s entire budget for the African, Carribean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
The ambassador who spoke during a media luncheon in Lagos, said one-third of the €600 million would be spent on electricity generation in Nigeria.
Arrion also revealed that the EU is also signing a migration agreement with Nigeria to help well meaning Nigerians that are highly skilled to get employment opportunities in European countries; provide opportunities for people to study abroad and boost Nigeria’s cordial relationship with European countries.
He said the agreement would also check illegal migration of unscrupulous people who intend to go abroad to engage in crime and other illegal activities.
“We are injecting about €600 million for the next five years into Nigeria. Nigeria is one of the top of recipients of development grants from the European Union, but the amount is nothing compared to the need because it is not €500 million, but €50 billion which Nigeria needs to address most of its development challenges,” he said.
“The EU proposed spending represents only one per cent of the need of the development of the country. The bulk of the financial resources for development have to come from investment from national investors, regional investors and international investors.
“We are facilitating a coherent platform between the development partners of Nigeria, the Nigerian government and investors from the national and international communities,” he added.
According to him, with the development funds, EU can act in a catalytic way to attract foreign investment. He said: “The EU’s plan to invest its development aid programmes to support the government to improve the business climate by boosting the confidence of international investors to invest in Nigeria.”
“Nigeria must use our group of European nations to really improve political and policy dialogues between Nigeria and European countries. We are really keen to engage with the Nigerian government in areas of political and policy dialogues both at the state and federal levels”, he said.
Furthermore, he said: “We are implementing development cooperation programmes in three main sectors such as electricity energy, food security, water and the basic social services.
“We are also quite active in the field of governance, criminal justice and human right which are clearly linked to democracy.”
He added that discussions have started with the security apparatus of the state, stressing that Nigeria has to address its current security challenges to develop.
“We believe that there is no development without peace and security, if you want to address the root causes of under development of some countries including Nigeria, security issues should be addressed,” he added.
Arrion noted that Nigeria is no doubt central to the growth of the continent, adding that the economy has continued to grow at an average of seven per cent over the last 10 years attributing the growth to be driven by the non-oil sector of the economy.
He said the recent GDP rebasing exercise has propelled Nigeria to the position of the largest economy in Africa, and noted that the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) outperformed most capital markets in 2013.
“Your banking sector has remained stable after the 2009 crisis, FDI flows and remittances from the diaspora remain significant. These positive indicators point to an increased global confidence in the Nigerian economy in response to ongoing reforms,” the ambassador stressed.
– This Day