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Bilateral relations

Political relations

France and Nigeria seek to develop their political relations. In addition to France’s support against terrorism in the Lake Chad region, after the Paris Summit (May 2014), bilateral relations have been growing particularly in the sectors of the economy and culture. Nigeria, because of its demographic, economic, cultural and political importance, has a crucial role in Africa.

French presence

French Embassy website: https://ng.ambafrance.org/-Francais-
Facebook account https://www.facebook.com/Embassy.of.France.in.Nigeria/ and twitter : https://twitter.com/franceabuja (@FranceAbuja)
Consulate of Lagos: https://ng.ambafrance.org/

Visits and meetings

The French President visited Nigeria in July 2018. He first met with President Buhari in Abuja to discuss regional issues, the G5 Sahel and counter-terrorism. He then went to Lagos where he visited the New Afrika Shrine, paying tribute to African cultural heritage and highlighting Nigeria’s contemporary creation, which is flourishing. The inauguration of the new Alliance Française in Lagos, the Mike Adenuga Centre, has also brought to fruition an exemplary partnership with Nigeria’s private sector to the benefit of France-Nigeria cultural outreach. At a meeting with more than 1,500 young entrepreneurs held by the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the President detailed France’s action to support African entrepreneurship and innovation. He also met with Nigerian business leaders, deciding with them to launch a French-Nigerian investment club. Lastly, the signature of a partnership between the Agence Française de Développement (AFD, French development agency) and NBA Africa at the Lycée Français Louis Pasteur in Lagos gave form to one of the President’s commitments in his 2017 Ouagadougou speech: to make sport a lever for development in Africa, benefiting African young people.

In June 2019, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, took part in Democracy Day in Juba. This holiday commemorates Moshood Abiola’s 1993 win in democratic elections that were cancelled by the armed forces. During his visit, the Minister met Jean-Claude Brou, ECOWAS Commission President.

The Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, Franck Riester, visited Abuja and Lagos in April 2021 to strengthen bilateral cooperation and investment in both countries, particularly in the logistics, banking, energy, agrifood and infrastructure sectors. The Minister Delegate also met young Nigerian business leaders in the cultural and creative industries to discuss Nigeria’s major role in African cultural creation and the development of the African business ecosystem, with France’s support.

President Muhammadu Buhari took part in the Summit on the Financing of African Economies in Paris on 18 May 2021. During this visit, he had a one-on-one meeting with the French President.

Economic relations

Nigeria is France’s leading trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, and the fourth-largest in Africa, behind Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. In 2019, trade between the two countries amounted to €4.479 billion. In 2018, Nigeria ranked 28th among suppliers to France in the world, and was France’s 60th-largest customer. Moreover, with an FDI stock of €9.4 billion in 2018, France is one of Nigeria’s leading investors.

Natural hydrocarbons and other extractive industry exports accounted for 97% of Nigeria’s exports to France in 2019. They make up the lion’s share of trade (€3.9 billion) between the two countries. France’s exports to Nigeria include pharmaceuticals, basic metals and metal products, and mechanical equipment. For the past decade, manufacturing has remained the main export sector to Nigeria (98% of flows on average). However, for the same period, French exports to Nigeria have decreased. French exports stood at €587 billion in 2019.

Some 100 French companies are present in Nigeria, including in the hydrocarbons, manufacturing, agrifood, energy, pharmaceutical, construction, telecommunications, aviation and insurance industries.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Our cooperation network in Nigeria includes 15 sites, coordinated by the Embassy’s Cooperation and Cultural Action Service (SCAC): the Institut Français of Nigeria, two schools licenced by the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE), a French Secular Mission (MLF) school in Port Harcourt, 10 Alliance Française branches across the country, and the French Research Institute in Africa (IFRA) in Ibadan, supervised by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). The Lagos Alliance Française branch has become a key centre since its inauguration by the French President in 2018. It offers French courses, an art gallery, a 120-capacity auditorium, a cinema and an outdoor theatre, as well as a restaurant and bakery.

The SCAC runs several projects financed under the Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects (FSPI). The “cultural and creative industries” FSPI project aims to stimulate cultural entrepreneurship and build capacities and improve governance in audiovisual, interactive media and heritage sectors. A cooperation agreement for the film industry was signed in January 2020 between the French National Cinema and Moving Image Centre (CNC) and the Nigerian National Film Corporation. Two other FSPI projects encourage the learning of French in Nigerian universities and support women’s employment in the agrifood industry.

The French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA) in Ibadan, attached to the French National Centre for Scientific Research, directs research programmes in human and social sciences and issues grants and subsidies for these programmes. It runs the projects Nigeria Watch and TransIslam, for example. IFRA carries out research in three main fields: (1) religious dynamics; (2) cities and the environment; and (3) mobilizations et identities.

In the area of development, the AFD focuses on the diversification of the country’s economy, the low-carbon energy transition and sustainable and productive farming to ensure food security. Since 2018, the AFD has been working in new sectors: higher education, water and sanitation, cultural and creative industries and digital technology. Between 2010 and 2020, the AFD financed more than 30 projects in Nigeria, totalling €2.2 billion.

Other cooperation

Security and defence cooperation and humanitarian aid

Security and defence cooperation aims to provide support to Nigeria’s army, navy and police forces. Military cooperation focuses on French language education to provide support to the strategy drafted by President Buhari, which aims to ensure in five years that most officers are able to interact with the armed forces of Francophone countries in the sub-region. The maritime security project concerns hydrography, diving, maritime cyber security, fleet maintenance and special forces. This broadens France’s cooperation with the region’s most powerful navy. Internal security and civil protection cooperation focuses on airport security, democratic crowd management and the fight against drug trafficking.

France also supports the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in its fight against Boko Haram through intelligence and operational cooperation, and provides political support to the Lake Chad Basin Commission. France is part of the International Support Group for Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery & Resilience of the African Union and the Chad Basin Commission.

Lastly, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs participates in humanitarian and stabilization action in the Lake Chad Basin, through its Crisis and Support Centre.

Updated: June 2022