Nigeria and some other African nations are to benefit from a €44 billion (N14.7 trillion) European Union, EU, Africa economic development fund to finance economic development and growth.
The bulk of the fund would be channeled towards the development of the digital industry in Nigeria which the EU considers as one of the sectors of the economy with the brightest prospect for growth and job creation for the youth population.
The Vice President, EU, Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, said in Lagos that the EU had already developed a framework for the effective and efficient disbursement of the fund to ensure its target was realised.
Mr. Ansip said the fund would be disbursed from the first quarter of 2018 as credit money, and would assist developing economies take care of risks in attracting foreign direct investments, FDIs.
“Our aim is to help developing economies, particularly in Africa,” Mr. Ansip said. “We have decided to create the European external investment fund targeted at risks to attract private investment. We believe the strategic investment will go a long way to help the African economy.”
Areas the fund is expected to help include reducing the number of refugees who seek greener pastures in European countries, saying Europe had, in the last two years, experienced more than 1 million refugees and migrants, the greatest mass movement of people since the second World war.
“The fund, meant to support development in African countries, will be beneficial to the European countries. As you know today, most people in Africa prefer to leave their countries to seek greener pastures in European countries.
“We are faced with lots of refugee crisis. To tackle this menace, we can provide some help to those countries to build their economies, instead of seeking refuge in Europe,” he said.
“Our aim is to support digital development in Africa and also help to build healthy economies in developing countries. The EU is the biggest donor of digital development aids. We believe the fragment of digital aid is little in developing countries.”
Mr. Ansip said the EU wanted to support digital development in Africa, by providing financing to build strong and healthier economies.
He noted the rapid growth in digital development in Nigeria and other African countries, pointing out that internet penetration has risen to over 80 per cent, with almost 100 per cent of Nigerians having access to internet services.
“African countries must create the right environment for digital development, create an effective regulatory environment that would have a much bigger influence than funds in the future of African countries,” he said.
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