Country Office of the French Development Agency (Agence Francaise de Developpement), says it has spent about one billion euros to fund various projects in Nigeria since 2008.
A statement issued by Mr Olivier Delefosse, AFD’s Country Director, on Wednesday in Abuja, said the agency’s support for the private sector was one of its priorities in Nigeria.
The agency said it allocated over 310 million U.S. dollars to the urban development sectors in the country between 2010 and 2015.
“Since the opening of the AFD County Office in Abuja, AFD’s group has committed a total funding of about one billion euro.
“The strategy of AFD in Nigeria is in three aspects which include; support to the development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Family Agriculture.
“The others are, scaling up access to power and promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency, and improving urban infrastructure,” it said.
It said the support to SMEs and family farming, following the restructuring and consolidation of the banking sector after the crisis in 2009 had created a favourable environment.
The agency said that the aim was to support and diversify growth and tackle chronic unemployment.
“AFD’s operations in this sector include the allocation of bank guarantees (ARIZ), which allow local banks to share the risk on loans to Nigerian SMEs.
“In 2015, AFD allocated 130 million U.S. Dollars of financing to the Federal Government to support projects.
“This was in co-financing with the World Bank, African Development Bank and German KfW, to support the creation of an SME development bank (Development Bank of Nigeria).”
In supporting the agricultural and rural development, AFD pledged to support the process of economy diversification and efforts to reduce geographical and social imbalances between North and South and between urban and rural populations.
It said the measure was to increase the productivity of family farming, which was still mostly subsistence-oriented, while limiting the rural-urban migration.
It noted that access to electricity remained the Federal Government’s top priority for its development policy.
“Nigeria is part of the first wave of Sub-Saharan African countries targeted by the UN Sustainable Energy for all initiative. AFD has taken part in this challenge by supporting the power transmission sector, backbone of the power grid.
“AFD is therefore supporting the State-owned company – Transmission Company of Nigeria – for the development of its power transmission links to the main distribution centres,” it said.
It said an initial project to increase the supply of electricity to Abuja received a first allocation 170 million dollars in 2013, and a second financing phase was already envisaged.
AFD said it was working on renewable energies, energy efficiency, and intended to support vocational training in the power sector and to finance, through credit facilities to local banks, DisCos’ investments.
“Another major development priority of the Nigerian government is to improve the livelihood in Nigerian cities where 50 per cent of the country’s population already lives.
“Urban Development is therefore one of the main focus for AFD’s operations in Nigeria.
“In this regard, AFD is supporting several initiatives in the Urban Water and Public Transport Sectors, as well as for Urban Renewal in Lagos,” it added.