France, Europe’s third largest economy after Germany and United Kingdom, in its more targeted investment in specific areas, is to unveil investments in education and agricultural sectors in Nigeria’s South-East region, an area popular for commerce, fabrication, education, music, film and others.
Jérôme Pasquier, the French ambassador to Nigeria, is undertaking tour of some states the South-East. He said in Umuobiakwa a community outside Umuahia, the Abia State capital that the French government was open to the possibility of working with Abia State in the areas of education and agriculture.
Pasquier was earlier in Imo State, where he explored areas of further French investments. He had lauded the performance of Alliance Française in Owerri, the state capital, as well as French language teaching and learning in the higher institutions in the state.
France has a soft spot for countries and regions which embrace the French language. Nigeria is one of such countries where in December 1996, former military head of state, Sani Abacha announced French as Nigeria’s second official language after English. Since then, the European economic giant has spent billions of dollars to assist Nigeria further entrench French language into its educational policy.
Additionally, France has vast Nigerian investments in the oil & gas, insurance, hospitality, telecoms, among many other sectors.
In 2008, a Nigerian business publication said French investments in Nigeria was in excess of N472 billion. Additionally, French investments in Nigeria were believed to be far greater than all of its sub-Saharan francophone Africa put together.
Pasquier, while discussing with Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State in his country home Umuobiakwa, described Abia as one of the best places in Nigeria for investment. He promised to make French presence to be felt in the State.
The French envoy, while in Imo some days earlier, had also hinted to show French presence in the state in likely to include oil and gas, hospitality, among others.
Meanwhile, Governor Ikpeazu, while declaring the state’s readiness to host French investments, presented some made in Aba items as commemorative to the French ambassador. Aba is famous for shoes, leather and allied products.
Ikpeazu particularly sought for the collaboration with the government of France through the ambassador in getting French companies invest in the state’s Enyimba Economic City, a 9,803-hectare economic city expected to create up to 625,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.
Governor Ikpeazu was at the second African Development Bank organised Africa Investment Forum (AIF) in South Africa in 2019, where he secured $430 million funding for the economic city. The estate covers Ukwa West, Ukwa East and Ugwunagbo local government areas.
He assured Pasquier that his administration would provide the necessary support needed by such French companies to invest in the state. He said he expect great collaboration from the French Government in agriculture and technical education.
The governor informed that his administration planned to build a Youth Eco-system where Abia children could acquire skills so as to fit into the technological demands of the 21st century. He appealed to the ambassador to partner the state in that regard.
He who described education as key to success in every other venture, noting that the focus of the state was on technical education; and wants the French Government to do more in that regard.