Nigeria, France's leading trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa
commerce | Economy | Finance | Investment | logistics | SupplyChain
Par Ibrahima DIALLO
25 November 2023 / 11:21

Since his arrival at the Élysée Palace in 2017, the French president has been doing his utmost to bring Paris and Lagos closer together and encourage investment the results are there.

The figures speak for themselves: economic trade between France and Nigeria has doubled in the last ten years. The West African giant, with its 225 million inhabitants, is now France's leading trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, and fourth in Africa behind Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

Around 100 French companies are present in the country, employing over 10,000 people, mainly in the key oil and gas sectors. French dynamism is also visible in Nigeria's banking, infrastructure and logistics sectors.

France is also one of Nigeria's leading foreign investors, with a stock of investment worth ten billion dollars. With over two billion euros invested over the past ten years (2021 figures) through the French Development Agency, France is Nigeria's second largest bilateral creditor, after China.

Far from critics pointing to the decline of French influence on the continent, Nigeria, Africa's leading economy, is looking to strengthen its ties with France through the private sector. For Paris, too, the objective is clear: to conquer new markets far from its traditional sphere of influence.

Multiplying investments

In the wake of President Macron's 2018 visit and the launch of the France-Nigeria Business Council, an initiative aimed at strengthening trade relations, several agreements in principle were signed this Thursday November 23 in Lagos between Nigerian and French companies, in the agriculture, energy and technological innovation sectors, marking France's desire to strengthen its investments in Nigeria.

On a two-day visit to the economic capital of Africa's most populous country, French Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade Olivier Becht, accompanied by a dozen French companies, took part in an economic summit between France and Nigeria and oversaw the signing of these agreements.

"Nigeria is a key partner for France", its "leading trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa", and "some 100 French companies" are present there, employing "over 10,000 people in the country", he insisted, before announcing Nigeria's presence for the first time at the Paris International Agricultural Show next February.

Five partnership agreements with Compagnie Fruitière/Raedial Holdings, Danone/Koolboks, Echosys/Rensource and Watt Renewables and Bpifrance/Access Bank were signed on Thursday in the agriculture, energy and technological innovation sectors.

"Nigeria is a country with potential, especially since the current government's promise to open up the country," Didier Mas, Technical Director for Africa at Compagnie Fruitière, which operates mainly in French-speaking Africa, told AFP. He hopes to join forces with Raedial Holdings to grow bananas in the southern state of Cross River.

For its part, Bpifrance has signed "a letter of intent" with Access Bank to develop their respective activities in France and Nigeria. "Bpifrance caught our attention because it has a great influence in the financial sector," Michael Wenegieme, head of the France department at Access Bank, told AFP.

Strengthening economic diplomacy

Olivier Becht is the third French representative to visit Nigeria since President Ahmed Bola Tinubu came to power in May. This visit comes on the heels of French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna's visit to the political capital Abuja on November 3.

On the eve of his departure, Olivier Becht told AFP that "contrary to what some media outlets, particularly social networks, are saying, France is in no way being driven out of Africa, and we are in no way in decline". At a time when the French army has been forced to withdraw from Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, Paris aims to consolidate its presence in Africa thanks to its economic weight, and to counter the influence of China and Russia on the continent.

Le Point Afrique

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