15 November 2015, Abuja – The European Union says it is committed to ensuring the sustainability of the economic ties between Nigeria and Europe through strategic investment in key sectors, especially the Small and Medium-scale Enterprises.
The forum was declared open by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State.
The business forum, tagged ‘Harnessing Nigeria’s potential for economic growth’, was the follow-up to last year’s edition, which focused on the development of agriculture and allied businesses.
According to Arrion, Nigeria has economic potential that is conducive for Foreign Direct Investment from the EU.
The EU official said the forum was organised to allow business leaders and policymakers to discuss ways to improve the business environment and attract European investments into Nigeria.
He said, “The European Union and Nigeria have developed robust economic relations with very large trade volumes at €30bn in 2015. Nigeria is also a key beneficiary of the EU Foreign Direct Investment.”
According to him, the EUNBF has been put together to explore opportunities in the EU and Nigerian SMEs to enable them to increase their business through the Enterprise Europe Network platform, which was formally launched at the forum.
Other objectives of the forum included exploring available options for accessing long-term finance for the power sector in Nigeria, and to identify opportunities in the textile value chain.
Arrion believes that the EEN will provide increased business and partnership opportunities between Nigeria and European SMEs.
The State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Slovak Republic, Lukas Parizek, said they were in the country to strengthen the economic partnership between Nigeria and the EU.
He said, “We are here to help diversify the Nigerian economy. Moreover, it will be helpful in the current context of persisting low oil prices that Nigeria has to face. Not only does Nigeria represent a key partner for the EU, it is also a hub for the whole region and Africa.
“Although bilateral relations between the EU and Nigeria have always been strong, trade and investment links can still be improved. We have a clear interest in enhanced commercial relations between our regions.”
The President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Nike Akande, informed the forum that the Federal Government was taking steps to reduce its reliance on oil by focusing attention on manufacturing, infrastructure, agriculture and agro-allied industries, solid minerals among other non-oil sectors.
Akande urged the EU investors to focus less on risks and impediments in the Nigerian market and pay attention to the huge opportunities in the economy.