By ACHADU GABRIEL, Kaduna
€512million has been budgeted for Nigeria and €1.1billion for West Africa including Nigeria by European Union (EU), under the 11th European Development Fund, EDF, Covering the period 2014-2020, EU Ambassador Michel Arrion has revealed.
Amb Arrion who disclosed this in a speech at the EU-Kaduna Trade and Investment Seminar on Monday in Kaduna said, the Union remains the most important development partners in Nigeria.
Arrion said EU has realised that working with government was not enough to support the sustainable development of African, Caribbean and Pacific, ACP, partners.
EU, according to Arrion, also noted that development aid was not in itself a sustainable development way to economic growth, stressing the reason why EU started to engage more with the private sector.
“And we have decided together with our ACP partners to use trade in a way to complement and support our development cooperation activities,” said the Ambassador.
Amb. Arrion said at market of over 500 million people, EU strongly believes in the power of trade in driving development, and would love to share its experiences to its friends and partners around the world, like Nigeria and ECOWAS.
He also said that EU strongly believes that equitable trade is the key to lift millions out of poverty and driving economic growth and development.
Arrion further stated that the seminar was a follow up to other events EU organised in Nigeria in collaboration with ECOWAS Commission and the EU member states in order to enlighten private sector stakeholders on the aim and objectives of the benefits of improved trade relations between EU and Nigeria.
He explained that, EU has no interest to economically colonise the West African market as is being speculated in some media reports and uninformed stakeholders, saying pursing such objectives would only increase poverty in the region, create instability and run counter to all their developments cooperation efforts that have been pursued for decades in West Africa.
Organised by EU in collaboration with ECOWAS Commission, Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency, Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Executive Director/CEO NEPC, Mr. Olusegun Arolowo in a goodwill message said, the seminar was timely.
“The timing of this program, which addresses two themes: the EU – West African economic partnerships agreements, EPA, increased opportunities for trade and investments, and opportunities for increasd exports in the agribusiness and textiles sectors could not be more in tune with the government’s new vision for Nigeria “.
Arolowo said Nigeria waat s a time when it has realised that its overdependence on oil exports as its primary source of revenue was no longer sustainable but to provide support for farmers, textiles workers, small and medium enterprises business owners and youth.
The Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, Architect Bala Bantex and many other dignitaries graced the occassion.