Buhari’s trip to France is set to enhance Nigeria-France relations

During President Buhari’s recent visit to France, French President, François Hollande stated the intention of his administration to increase the visibility of its investors in Nigeria, and is already treading in the right direction.

A delegation of 50 representatives of French companies are expected to visit Nigeria this week to explore business opportunities and establish bilateral links in the country, the French Embassy said on Friday. This move is not only aimed at building close bilateral links with Nigeria, but will also explore the potential of this relationship between both countries to yield abundant economic benefits. France has already concluded arrangements to invest 130 million Euro in the development of infrastructure in Nigeria for rebuilding of roads, the provision of electricity, and increased water access. The companies on the delegation include those in the sectors such as building, transportation, environment, energy and sustainable cities.

While Buhari’s visit to France was largely centered on tackling security challenges in Nigeria, it also involved consultations with the business community in France to boost the overall development of both countries. A statement from Georges Vanin, First Counsellor, Political Affairs and Communication, Embassy of France, said the business delegation was the first of its kind from France to any African country. As such it was organized by the Movement of the Enterprises of France (MEDEF), France’s foremost network of entrepreneurs and the largest employer federation with 800,000 member firms.

Africa is deemed the world’s fastest growing continent with a 5 to 6 percent growth rate for several years, and has become one of the major business hubs in the world. Nigeria’s GDP has been growing since 2012 and was predicted to increase by 7.3 percent in 2015, making it the number one economy in Africa.

President Muhammadu Buhari has been tasked with leading Nigeria in a positive direction. This latest development will also present an opportunity for Nigeria to strengthen cooperation in other areas like culture and job creation. According to Mr Pierre Gattaz, President of MEDEF,  Nigeria is a land of investments and development for French businesses. “[…] Africa is our new frontier.“We are friends and have much to gain by building strong, confident and sustainable business relationships.“Although France has much to contribute to Africa, but Africa has so much to bring to France,” he said.

The readiness of Nigeria and France to work closely together is the first step in the right direction, however there is also the need for Nigeria to form a greater alliance with neighbouring countries–which are mostly francophone, if the plague of Boko Haram is to be completely eliminated.

Gattaz will lead the delegation to meet President Muhammadu Buhari before meeting with the business communities.

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