Healthcare: African SMEs get €3.5bn from France

France is opening the ‘Choose Africa’ conference on President Emmanuel Macron’s €3.5bn initiative to support start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises on the continent, including Nigeria.

France’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Franck Riester, who made the disclosure on Wednesday during a meeting with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum in Abuja, added that his home country was willing to finance and build capacity in the health sector.

He regretted that the bilateral trade between both countries totalling $4.5bn in 2019 crashed to $2.3bn in 2020 due to the Coronavirus Disease.

Noting that Nigeria is the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa for France’s direct investments, Riester said there were about 100 French companies developing different sectors of the Nigerian economy.

He added that the firms employed more than 10,000 people, mostly Nigerians, and contributed to vocational training.

His words, “France is a major financial partner for Nigeria, being the second bilateral creditor after China. Thanks to the involvement of French Development Agency. It expended more than €2bn in the last 10 years on over 35 development projects.

“France is also one of the major partners of the COVAX initiative. Last February, President Macron stated that the failure to share vaccines would entrench global inequality and proposed sending part of the COVID-19 vaccine supplies owned by European countries, the United States of America, China and Russia to developing countries.”

Responding on behalf of NGF, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State clarified that the gathering was to strengthen collaboration between the states and the French government, particularly in the area of investment.

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