Nigeria and France, yesterday in Abuja signed a Memorandum of Understanding on SMEs development in the country. This is just as France has promised to assist the country in increasing her power generation capacity.
Director-General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN),Alhaji Bature Masari,at the occasion, signed on behalf of Nigeria in the presence of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Olusegun Aganga and his French counterpart, Mrs. Nicole Bricq, while the head of the Banque Publique d’Investisement (BPI France) ,Viginie Poncet, signed on behalf of the French government.
Aganga said the collaboration between the two SME agencies was aimed at “creating a working group that would organise a skills transfer from BPI France to SMEDAN, in addition to sharing BPI France’s model and best practices learned from a long history of SME growth support.”
He said that the working group could share information on the whole scope of intervention of BPI France’s financing innovation (through state and regions budget allocations) in the form of subsidies and repayable advances, this is also in addition to sharing the methods and technical constraints to deliver these aids for the best economic efficiency.
Aganga, who also signed the agreement to set up the Franco-Nigeria Trade and Investment Council with his counterpart, the French Minister of Foreign Trade, Mrs. Nicole Bricq, said the Council would identify areas of investment across all sectors of the economy and also report the progress made on quarterly basis. This minister said, was to ensure that it was action and result-oriented.
According to him, the FNTIC would be working with the chambers of commerce and trade associations, but they would be the key drivers of major decisions that would be made.In addition, the FNTC would be sponsored by the two trade ministeries , who would create the enabling environment for the Council to thrive.
The minister, also disclosed that trade relations between the two countries had grown from N550billion in 2008 to about N1trillion in 2012. In her remarks, the French minister of foreign trade, said Nigeria was of strategic economic importance to France, adding that the setting up of the FNTIC was part of France’s efforts towards facilitating more Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) into Nigeria.
Bricq said : “We want to increase the number of French companies that will invest in Nigeria by 50 per cent within the next few years.We want to assure Nigerians that France is ready and willing to put its financial resources behind this initiative to make it work,” she said.
In a related development, she also told the Minister of Power ,Prof. Chinedu Nebo,that her country, through French Development Agency (FDA), the European Union (EU) and private companies operating in Nigeria, would participate actively in all power- related development projects.
Information from Leadership was used in this report.