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British PM, May happy with Nigeria, doles out £70m

President Mohammed Buhari with the Prime Minister Theresa May.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has left Nigeria after an excellent time and dolling out of £70 million to spur job creation programmes.

After a meeting with captains of industries in Lagos on Wednesday, May confessed having an excellent time in Nigeria and hopes to see increased trade and investment between Nigeria and the UK.

As prepared to jet out of Lagos at the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport , she said: “I was in Abuja and also in Lagos to see the thriving business community here.’’

“We want to see increased trade between Nigeria and UK, increased investment, bringing jobs here in Nigeria, jobs in the UK.

“This will be good for both countries and I have had an excellent time in Nigeria, and I am very pleased to be here today,” she said.

 She had visited Abuja earlier in the day where she had a closed door with President Muhammadu Buhari and facilitated the signing of an all-embracing bilateral agreement.

At a meeting with some Nigerian business magnate, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Mr Femi Otedola and Mr Tony Elumelu, and others May said that UK would provide export credit finance to the tune of 750 million pounds sterling.

 UK would as well as ensure considerable development finance was available, which Lagos State could look towards.

 She also spoke about the role that British could play in the development of the technology industry in Lagos given the particular capability of the UK in that area.

 The British Prime Minister also noted the special strength of the London City as a financial hub that could be of considerable importance for Lagos State, just as she emphasized sustainability and growth in Britain/Lagos relationship.

Finally, she expressed the desire of the British government to assist Lagos in the development of her creative industry and alluded to the fact that the jacket she was wearing when she met with the Governor was actually made in Nigeria.

 The UK Government announced a new £70 million programme to create 100,000 jobs.

 UK’s minister of state for Africa, Harriett Baldwin, said at a business event,  part of the activities for May’s visit.

 Baldwin, who led a business delegation to the event, said that the programme would raise the income of three million people from the poorest parts of Nigeria.

 “We are here today to talk about technology links between the UK Fintech sector and the Nigerian Fintech sector and will bring inward investment in terms of this important sector of technology.

 “Today, it is all about celebrating those links through technology and I am very excited that the Prime Minister is announcing today a new £70 million programme that will create some 100,000 jobs in Nigeria and will also raise the income of three million people from the poorest parts of Nigeria.”

 The minister said that the event was celebrating the role of growing businesses and entrepreneurs and also highlighted the partnerships of both countries in the area of technological development.

 She added that the delegation consisted of various UK businesses were willing to invest “the kind of capital that creates jobs”.

 Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Ministers of Finance and Power, Works and Housing, Kemi Adeosun and Babatunde Fashola respectively, attended the event.

 Osinbajo said that the Federal Government was keen on driving technology development in the country in support of the government’s economic growth plan.

The vice president said there was the need to create the right environment for technology companies to thrive and further gave an assurance of the government’s commitment to support innovation in the country.

 “I think just looking at some of the start-ups that we see today, many of them started while the recession was on and they proved, by just a number of jobs, value and wealth created, that this is the future starting today.

 “This is why we have started up first with the creativity and technology advisory group; many of these start-ups are members of this group where they help to formulate policies with Federal Government policy makers especially in Fintech, which are some of the new areas we need to formulate policies.”

 Lagos governor Ambode also said that much of Nigerian education, cultural and political systems were influenced by Britain and there were more Nigerians living in the UK than elsewhere in the world.

 The governor said that Lagos remained a place of choice for British investors, especially given that stability in the government, the size of Lagos economy and population, as well as the particular focus of his administration on the rule of law and justice sector reform.

 He also said that it would be of particular importance to Lagos State if British investors could explore the various opportunities that exist in the State in the areas of energy, technology, export finance, infrastructure and the creative industry.

 “So, we spoke about how we can improve the investment climate in Lagos and then the other parts of what Lagos has been doing to attract investors.

 “You know we have been doing a lot in judicial sector reforms and security sector reforms and the Prime Minister was pleased with the progress that we are making in Lagos and ready to complement our efforts by opening up export credit facility and development finance to some of the things that we are doing in Lagos State.”

 The business community in Lagos views the visit of May as a step to deepen existing bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

 Some members of the Lagos business community expressed their views on the sideline of May’s meeting with the business community in Lagos.

 Mr Akin Olawore, the President of Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), said that  the meeting was pertinent for Nigeria to maintain a strong economic relationship with Britain in alignment with its membership of the Commonwealth.

 “It seems very convincing now that Britain wants to explore trade with Nigeria and we are also ready to do business with them.

“We are supposed to be natural business partners because we have so many things in common.

“But I believe this visit is setting a tone for partnership because we can now work together and see how we can help each other achieve real trade growth.

 “Now that they are ready for serious business with Nigeria, genuine business people can take advantage of the opportunities,” he said.

 Olawore said that the proposed Investment Cooperation Agreement (TICA) between the two countries would enhance trade competitiveness, economic growth and ease of the business climate in the country.

 “The Cooperation Agreement means we are now partners and it will also spell out conditions of free trade agreements

“If you look at our agric export, for lack of meeting their standard or European Union standard, they were stopped at the port, but now that will not happen again.

He said that trade betwen Britain and Nigeria was expected to rise above 100 million pounds before the end of 2018 and could hit $8 billion by 2020.

 Mr Babatunde Ruwase, the President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said that the business community should position itself to explore the various opportunities and maximise the benefits of the mutual partnership.

“It is a good development for Nigeria and British relationship because we can see enthusiasm that came from the Prime Minister’s visit and her planned investment in certain sectors of the economy.

 “Particularly, their interest in the areas of improving investment in Fintech and infrastructure development,” he said.

 Nigeria is Britain’s second largest trading partner in Africa and highly populated West African country’s  top export to the UK is crude oil and its largest import is refined oil.

May is on a trade mission to Africa in an attempt to bolster Britain’s post-Brexit fortunes.

This is her first visit to Africa since she became Prime Minister in 2016.