National: Nigeria, others to benefit from €2.6b European Union funds for growth

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Nigeria is among some African countries to benefit from the €2.6 billion European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD).The EFSD will contain two ‘blending’ facilities/ platforms, which will provide grants to improve the conditions under which public institutions and the private sector working with International Financial Institutions (IFIs) can borrow for investment purposes.

Minister, Deputy Head of Delegation, European Union Delegation to Nigeria and Economic Community of West African States, Richard Young, revealed this yesterday in Lagos at a media conference to announce its seventh EU-Nigeria business forum. Young said the funds would be released to two regional investment platforms, which include the African Investment Platform (AIP) and Neighbourhood Investment Platform (NIP). He put the indicative budget of both platforms at EUR 2.6 billion.

According to Yoing, the funds are existing grant that are now refocused towards meeting the objectives of the European External Investment Plan (EIP). However, the main innovation of the EFSD is its new guarantee scheme. It has a budget of €1.5 billion, backed by €750 million in EU budget funds. The objective is to leverage additional financing, in particular from the private sector, as the EFSD guarantee will both reduce the risk for private investment and absorb potential losses incurred by them. 

Young noted that European Commission launched an ambitious EIP with a new approach to the way the commission supports sustainable development, identifies, prepares and delivers support for investment projects in countries outside Europe.

The plan, he said, would improve the way scarce public funds are used and the way public authorities and private investors cooperate on investment projects. It will also support the reforms needed to improve economic governance and local business environments, in full cooperation with the partner countries concerned.To further build on the relationship with EU companies in Nigeria, the EU delegation, member states and the European companies active in Nigeria have established a European Business Organisation (EBO).

President, EBO Nigeria, Mrs .Folashade Ambrose-Medebem, said the EBO would represent the voice of European companies across various sectors of the economy, and ensure a high-level policy dialogue with Nigerian authorities and organised private sector, with the objective of improving business and investment climate thereby fostering business and trade relations between the EU and Nigeria. The EBO is expected to be launched during the forum.

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