The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Nigeria and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Ms Samuela Isopi, has promised to collaborate with the Federal Government in its ongoing efforts to bridge the nation’s infrastructure gap and tackling the insecurity challenges.
Isopi, who gave this hint during a chat with business editors in Lagos, noted that it had become imperative for Nigeria to improve critical infrastructure and overcome security challenges to attract investments into key sectors of the economy.
She said: “We are working to support the government to address security challenges in the area of farmers/herder clashes, oil bunkering and others.
“Nigeria needs to create the appropriate environment to attract investments in the several sectors of the economy”, the envoy added.
According to her, the EU is also focusing on investments in the nation’s oil and gas and agriculture sectors being the key drivers of the economy.
Speaking on the plans by the EU to reduce its member-countries’ over-dependence on Russia for their energy needs, Isopi said: “We want to wean ourselves from dependence on gas from Russia. By continuing to buy gas from Russia, we will continue to support their economy.
“We are reaching out to the Nigerian government and other African countries as alternatives. But we are confronted by the issues of inadequate infrastructure, vandalism, banditry and kidnapping. That’s why we are collaborating with the Nigerian government”, she added.
The envoy described the EU bloc as Nigeria’s biggest trading partner, noting that the European bloc accounts for 20.9 percent of Nigeria’s trade with the world while also accounting for 25.4 percent of Nigeria’s exports to the global market.
Isopi also recalled that the bloc was Nigeria’s first partner in foreign direct investment, with EU companies, together with their Nigerian business partners, contributing to the country’s economic growth, job creation and wealth generation.
The Ambassador assured that all the issues hindering investments in Nigeria would be tackled at the 8th EU-Nigeria Business Forum with the theme ‘Nigeria and the New Economy’ scheduled to hold in Lagos from June 30 to July 1.
She clarified: “This year’s event will focus on three key sectors: backward integration policy of the Nigerian government; opportunities to increase gas exports to Europe; and new initiatives in the agricultural sector. While these sectors are not new, the potential in them remains largely untapped.
“During the 8th EU-Nigeria Business Forum, discussions will aim to identify the causes of these hindrances and explore how these opportunities can be unlocked for the mutual benefit of Nigeria and Europe”, Isopi added
Commenting at the forum, the Trade Counselor, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. John Taylor, explained that the 8th EU-Nigeria Business Forum was jointly organised by the EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, in collaboration with member states.
According to him, in addition to the plenary discussions, there will be exhibitions on both days of the event.
Taylor explained that the first day would feature a demonstration by several European companies operating in Nigeria on how they have been able to implement the backward integration policy of the Nigerian government in their sectors, adding that the activities of the second day would focus on the Team Europe project, and the investments of EU businesses in the Nigerian agriculture sector.