France and Nigeria seek to develop their political relations. Bilateral relations have particularly grown in the economic and cultural fields. Nigeria, because of its demographic, economic, cultural and political importance, has a crucial role in Africa.
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 1500 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. 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 Abuja, commemorating the democratic election of Moshood Abiola on 12 June 1993, which was then annulled by the military.
The Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, Franck Riester, visited Abuja and Lagos in April 2021 to strengthen bilateral cooperation and encourage investment in both countries, particularly in the logistics, banking, energy, agrifood and infrastructure sectors.
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 meeting with the French President. President Buhari returned to France in November 2021 for the Paris Peace Forum, and was received at the Élysée Palace. A Nigerian economic forum was held in Paris on the sidelines of the event.
On 28 June 2021, six major Nigerian businesspeople took part in the France-Nigeria Business Council meeting at the Château de Versailles, on the sidelines of the Choose France Summit, in the presence of Minister Delegate Riester. The Council was an opportunity for the business communities of both countries to forge ties giving rise to promising new projects. The French President concluded the discussions.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s first official visit abroad was to Paris, to take part in the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact on 22 and 23 June 2023. During this visit, he had a meeting with the French President.
Ms Emmanuelle Blatmann has been Ambassador to Nigeria since October 2021.
Nigeria is France’s leading trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, and the fourth-largest in Africa, behind Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. In 2021, Nigeria accounted for 20% of France’s trade with sub-Saharan Africa, amounting to €3.53 billion. France has a bilateral trade deficit of €2.3 billion.
In 2021, French exports to Nigeria rose steeply in value on the previous year, from €528 million to €611 million, or a 16% rise, in the first year of rising French sales to Nigeria in 9 years. Manufactured products represent almost the totality of France’s exports to Nigeria, with agrifood products being the leading export at around 30%. France is Nigeria’s 9th-largest supplier, between Germany and Brazil.
While petroleum products represent 95% of our imports from Nigeria, the around 100 French companies in the country are present in various economic sectors, including pharmaceuticals, energy, insurance, agrifood, shipping and hospitality, employing around 10,000 people directly. French foreign direct investment in Nigeria has doubled in a decade, confirming the historic and long-term activities of our companies. France’s foreign direct investment stock in the country, which stood at €7.2 billion in 2021, is ahead of that of the United Kingdom and the United States.
The France-Nigeria Business Council was launched in 2018 and brings together the major French and Nigerian companies that wish to launch investment partnerships together. It has brought to fruition both French investment projects in Nigeria and Nigerian investment projects in France, particularly in the banking sector.
The French cooperation network in Nigeria includes 15 sites, coordinated by the Abuja 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 in Ibadan (IFRA-Ibadan) , supervised by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). The Lagos Alliance Française branch, the Mike Adenuga Centre, 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 manages several projects financed through the Ministry’s Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects (FSPI). The “Cultural and Creative Industries” FSPI, for example, aims to consolidate existing partnerships between French and Nigerian stakeholders in this field (music, digital technology, performing arts, etc.) and spark new ones, particularly in the field of e-sport in Lagos. IFRA-Ibadan manages another FSPI project, dedicated to preserving Nigerian heritage.
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. The projects implemented by the AFD and its subsidiary dedicated to private sector development, Proparco, directly benefit Nigerian citizens, workers and businesspeople by supporting the efforts of the federal government and constituent states to guarantee better access to basic services like water and electricity, to infrastructure and to a more conducive business environment. Since 2010, the AFD has dedicated €2.5 billion to Nigeria, primarily in the form of loans.
In January 2022, the Directorate General of the Treasury (DGT) approved a concessional loan to the Nigerian federal State to benefit the state of Oyo (south-west), aimed at enabling it to access financing (€55 million) at a preferential rate to strengthen its health system.
Security and defence cooperation
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 subregion. The maritime security project concerns hydrography, diving, maritime cyber security, fleet maintenance and special forces. This broadens France’s cooperation with the Gulf of Guinea’s leading navy. Internal security and civil protection cooperation focuses on airport security 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, working from N’Djamena. At the political level and concerning development in the Lake Chad region, 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 contributes to humanitarian and stabilization efforts in the Lake Chad Basin, as well as in Nigeria’s north-west.
Updated: 29 August 2023