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Nigeria – Visit by Franck Riester (12 to 14 April 2021)

Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, visited Nigeria from April 12 to 14. This visit falls in line with the priorities set by President Macron during his visit to Nigeria in July 2018 and his (…)

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France and Nigeria

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 are stepping up particularly in the sectors of the economy and culture. Nigeria, because of its demographic, economic, cultural and political weight, has a crucial role in Africa.

French presence

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

Visits

In 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari made an official visit to France, during which he met with President Hollande on issues related to security (fighting Boko Haram, Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa), the economy (French-Nigerian Council for Trade and Investment, opening of a Business France office in Lagos, new agreements with the Agence Française de Développement) and concerning the environment (COP21).

The President of the French Republic visited Nigeria in July 2018. He first met with Mr Buhari in Abuja, with whom he discussed regional issues, the G5 Sahel and anti-terrorism efforts. He then went to Lagos where he visited the New Afrika Shrine, paying homage to the African cultural heritage and highlighting Nigeria’s contemporary design, which is flourishing. The inauguration of the new Alliance Française in Lagos – Mike Adenuga Center has also helped establish an exemplary partnership with Nigeria’s private sector to the benefit of France-Nigeria cultural outreach. At the meeting with more than 1,500 young entrepreneurs held by the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the President was able to give detailed information on 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 and the NBA Africa at the Lycée Français Louis Pasteur de Lagos has helped give form to one of the President’s commitments he made during his speech in Ouagadougou (2017): to make sport a lever for development in Africa, benefiting African youth.

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 winning in 1993 a democratic election that was cancelled by the armed forces. On this occasion, the Minister met with Jean-Claude Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission.

The Minister of State attached to the Minister for National Education and Youth, Gabriel Attal, visited Lagos in December 2019.

Jérôme Pasquier has been the French Ambassador to Nigeria since September 2018. Born on 10 April 1957, a career diplomat, Mr Pasquier graduated from the École Polytechnique and the École Nationale d’Administration.
Modupe E. Irele has been the Nigerian Ambassador to France since July 2017. She is a professor and has thought at the University of Pennsylvania.

Economic relations

Nigeria is France’s leading trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, and the fourth leading 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. Conversely, Nigeria was France’s 60th 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 industries products account 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 exports to Nigeria include pharmaceuticals, basic metals and metal products, and mechanical equipment. For the past decade, manufacturing industry 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.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Culture is an area in which France and Nigeria’s cooperation is particularly extensive. The Institut Français in Nigeria, in Abuja, and the network of 10 Alliance Française branches are at the heart of France’s cultural activities in Nigeria. The Alliance Française of Lagos has been very popular since its inauguration by the President of the French Republic. 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 Alliance Française of Lagos has become in just a few weeks a leading centre for art and culture. The cultural and creative industries are a priority of French action in Nigeria. In 2019, two events on this theme were held simultaneously in Lagos and Paris: the first edition of French-Nigerian Cinema Days in Lagos and the second edition of the Nigerian Television Day in Paris.

Regarding education, the Agency for French Education Abroad runs the École Française Marcel Pagnol of Abuja and the Lycée Louis Pasteur of Lagos, and is a partner of the École Française Total of Port Harcourt. The Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects helps develop French language education opportunities in Nigeria’s higher education system. The number of French language learners in Nigeria is steadily rising. Lastly, the Alliance Française branches offer many French courses.

The Institut Français de Recherche en Afrique in Ibadan, which depends on 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.

In the area of development, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) focuses on the diversification of the economy of the country, 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. From 2010 to 2018, the AFD funded 30 projects in Nigeria totalling €1.5 billion in undertakings.

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 cybersecurity, maintenance of the fleet and special forces. This makes it possible to broaden the area of cooperation with the most powerful navy in the region. Internal security and civil protection cooperation focus on airport security, democratic crowd management and the fight against drug trafficking.

France also supports the Multinational Joint Task Force in its fight against Boko Haram, through cooperation in the area of intelligence, and provides its political support to the Lake Chad Basin Commission. France is therefore 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 conducted in the Lake Chad Basin .

Updated: 20.10.20