France and Nigeria
On the occasion of an official visit to France (visit http://www.ambafrance-ng.org/) by the previous Nigerian Head of State in June 2008, France and Nigeria established a strategic partnership designed, in particular, to strengthen their political dialogue and cooperation in the areas of (i) the economy and energy, (ii) culture and technique, (iii) the judiciary, (iv) the military and defence.
The French Prime Minister François Fillon visited Nigeria on 22 and 23 May 2009. On that occasion, a number of texts and agreements were signed under the strategic partnership convention, including an agreement on judicial cooperation in criminal matters and a memorandum on defence and maritime safety cooperation.
In May 2011, on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony of President Goodluck Jonathan, the French Minister with responsibility for Cooperation Henri de Raincourt had a meeting with the Head of State.
In November 2011, the French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Alain Juppé visited Abuja and Kano in Nigeria. That same month, during a working visit to France, the Nigerian President had a meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy on the strengthening of bilateral cooperation, including economic cooperation.
On 25 September 2012, President François Hollande met with President Goodluck Jonathan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan again met with President François Hollande and the Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius during a working visit to Paris on 11 February 2013. On 6 and 7 December 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan attended the Elysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa.
The French Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Nigeria twice in March 2013 and was received by President Goodluck Jonathan, and again in November 2013. On these occasions, he emphasized the French authorities’ mobilization around the release of our compatriots held hostage in Nigeria by terrorist groups. For the record, the hostages were the Moulin-Fournier family, which was kidnapped in Cameroon on 19 February 2013 and freed on 19 April 2013; Mr Françis Collomp, who was kidnapped on 19 December 2012 and escaped on 17 November 2013; and priest Georges Vandenbeusch, who was kidnapped in Cameroon on 13 November 2013 and released on 31 December 2013.
On 15 and 17 September 2013, the French Minister of Foreign Trade Ms Nicole Bricq visited Abuja and Lagos. The French Minister Delegate for Development Pascal Canfin went to Nigeria on 17 January 2014 to attend the 12th Plenary Session of the Leading Group on Innovative Financing for Development, under Nigerian presidency in 2013.
The French President François Hollande was guest of honour at the Centenary Anniversary of Nigeria’s Amalgamation on 27 February 2014. Following a Franco-Nigerian economic meeting, an Agreement on the creation of the joint Nigeria-France Trade and Investment Council was also signed.
On 28 and 29 March 2014, the French Minister of Finance Pierre Moscovici participated in the Seventh Joint AU Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance and ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development as a “special guest of the government of Nigeria”.
Following the Boko Haram kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok in April 2014, a Summit for Security in Nigeria was held on 17 May 2014 in Paris and brought together the Heads of State of Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, and the representatives of the USA, the United Kingdom and the European Union. The Summit aimed to strengthen regional and international mobilization to combat Boko Haram terrorism and helped launch an action plan based in particular on cooperation actions at regional and international level.
The French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development visited Abuja on 27 October 2014 with his German counterpart. This was the first joint visit to sub-Saharan Africa by the French and German Foreign Ministers.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development represented the French President on the occasion of the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on 29 May 2015.
At the invitation of President François Hollande, President Buhari made an official visit to Paris on 14-16 September 2015, reserving his first European visit for France. The two leaders discussed bilateral, regional, international and global issues. They reaffirmed their commitment to their bilateral relations and agreed to strengthen their partnership in the areas of security, the economy, culture, the judiciary and climate.
With €4.2 billion in bilateral trade in 2015, Nigeria remains France’s first trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa.
French exports to Nigeria totalled €1.3 billion in 2015 and consisted mainly of refined petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, agrifood products and mechanical and electrical equipment. French exports to Nigeria are down 14.4% from 2014, but still above the average for the decade (€1.2 billion). This is due to a fall in exports of refined products, partly offset by an increase in sales of pharmaceutical products.
French imports from Nigeria totalled €2.9 billion in 2015, down 29% from 2014 (€4.1 billion). Natural hydrocarbons account for 97% of imports.
French cooperation primarily supports French language teaching which accounts for three-fifths of our bilateral support, as well as scientific and cultural exchanges.
During the French Prime Minister’s visit to Nigeria on 22 May 2009, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on the main areas of French-Nigerian cooperation such as French language teaching and cultural diversity, higher education and research, and the strengthening of governance and the rule of law.
Nigeria hosts a French Institute in Abuja; a French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA) based in Ibadan (visit http://www.ifra-nigeria.org/?lang=en); three Centres for French Teaching and Documentation (CFTDs) based in Ibadan, Jos and Enugu; 10 Alliances Françaises (visit http://www.ambafrance-ng.org/French-cultural-centres-in-Nigeria) in Lagos, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Enugu, Jos, Kano, Maiduguri, Kaduna and Ilorin; a French lycée in Lagos (visit http://lyceefrancaislagos.ac-nantes.fr/); a French school in Abuja (visit http://www.ecolefrancaiseabuja.net/) and a business school in Port Harcourt (visit http://www.mlfmonde.fr/Ecole-Francaise-Total-MLF). In 2012-2013, France hosted 309 Nigerian students, of whom 67.3% attended university. In October 2013, the Campus France Agency and the French Embassy in Nigeria organized the First Nigeria Day in Paris in order to develop French-Nigerian scientific and university cooperation.
The AFD Group is also developing its activities: it has committed almost €1 billion (€738 million from the AFD and €261 million from Proparco) to the country since 2010. Its action is focused on urban development, family farming and support for SMEs and energy. For the period 2015-2017, AFD actions are expected to focus on supporting SME development, agricultural and rural development, the development of training to address economic needs (power sector), access to energy, safe drinking water and sanitation, rehabilitation of slum areas and access to housing, and the facilitation of urban and inter-urban mobility. The AFD may help finance urban transport projects in Lagos or in other big Nigerian cities. Planned commitments are expected to reach $650 million in loans.