Nigeria and the ₦ew €conomy: EU-Nigeria Business Forum Returns After a 4-Year Hiatus
After a four-year break, the EU-Nigeria Business Forum (EUNBF) returned to the stage on June 30 and July 1 2022. Since the 7th edition of the Business Forum held in Lagos in 2018, the Business Forum had been, as it were, in limbo – thanks in the main to the COVID-19 pandemic and its ripple effects. For years now, the EUNBF has served as a major platform that brings together business leaders from the EU Member States, their Nigerian counterparts, relevant Nigerian authorities and EU officials to deliberate on how to make the Nigerian business environment more business and investor-friendly, in the interest of Nigerians and European investors.
The 8th EU-Nigeria Business Forum, which held at Eko Hotels and Suits, Lagos, was formally opened by the Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the Nigerian Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, who also oversees international cooperation. The event themed Nigeria and the ₦ew €conomy, focussed on three key sectors, including backward integration policy of the Nigerian Government; opportunities to increase gas exports to Europe; and new initiatives in the agricultural sector.
“The way forward - and the way out of crisis - has to be the sustainable development of a vibrant diversified economy, based on a business environment that is attractive to investors,” EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS. Ms Samuela Isopi, noted while setting the keynote for the two-day event in her welcome address.
Overall, the 8th EU-Nigeria Business Forum sought to identify and address the bottlenecks militating against existing investors and deter new ones from investing in Nigeria’s economy. In addition to the plenary discussions, there were also world café-style exhibitions on both days of the event. The first day feature a demonstration by several European companies operating in Nigeria on how they had been able to key into the backward integration policy of the Nigerian Government in their various sectors. Proceedings on the second day mainly focused on the Team Europe projects and EU businesses’ investments in the Nigerian agricultural sector.
The Director, European Commission Directorate General for Agriculture, Mr John Clarke, participated virtually from Brussels, and spoke on 'EU-Nigeria cooperation in agriculture, what's in it for both' on the second day of the event.
The highlight of the event was the launch of the €1.3 billion Green Economy Team Europe Initiative by the EU Ambassador, Ms Samuela Isopi, and representatives of EU Member States involved in the programme. Under the Green Economy Initiative, the EU, Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands and the European Development Finance Institutions will to implement selected programmes and initiatives aimed at assisting Nigeria to achieve low carbon, resource efficient and climate resilient development, creating jobs for youth and economic growth, focussing on climate-smart agriculture as well as circular and digital economy.
To achieve these objectives, the Green Economy Team Europe Initiative pulls together some 60 projects. According to Ambassador Samuela Isopi, work of the identified projects is already underway and will span through 2027, the EU current budget perspective. But the EU will not stop at that, as the Initiative remains open to more projects and contributors. “By acting together in close coordination, we will achieve more than the simple sum of these projects, and the impact of our actions will be greater,” she stated
The EU remains the largest investor in Nigeria and the number one trading partner, accounting for over 20 per cent of Nigeria’s trade with the world. Despite the global downturn in trade that is still being felt after COVID-19, EU-Nigeria trade in 2021 was €28.7 billion, with a significant trade balance of over €6 billion in favour of Nigeria.
The EU-Nigeria Business Forum (EUNBF) has served as a platform for EU and Nigerian businesses to interact towards increasing domestic investments, enhancing access to the EU market and building strategic partnerships. It is jointly organised by the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, in collaboration with EU Member States in Nigeria. The import of this year’s event as a key driver of investment, was underscored by the calibre and number of representatives of the Nigerian Government, private sector actors and Member States in attendance.