EU Launches €44bn Economic Development Fund for African Countries

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  •   Targets Nigeria’s digital industry 

By Crusoe Osagie

The European Union (EU) yesterday, announced that it has launched a €44 billion Africa economic development fund aimed at helping Nigeria and other African countries drive economic growth and development.

The Vice President, EU, Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, said EU is already developing a strategic framework for the implementation and disbursement of the fund, maintaining that the EU is also designing security measures to ensure the fund is effectively and efficiently disbursed.

Ansip during a press briefing in Lagos explained that the fund which would be made available for disbursements in first quarter 2018 as credit money, was designed to help developing economies cover identified risks to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs).

The fund is also going to help the digital industry in Nigeria which the EU sees as one of the areas with the strongest growth potential.

He said: “Our aim is to help developing economies.  We have decided to create the European external investment fund which is targeted at covering main risks to attract private investment. This kind of fund was really efficient in the European union (EU) where we created investment for strategic investment and we believe this fund will go a long way to help the African economy.”

According to him, the fund would go a long way in reducing the number of refugees who seek greener pastures in European countries, saying that in the last two years, Europe has experienced the greatest mass movement of people since the second World war.

He pointed out that more than 1 million refugees and migrants have arrived in the EU, adding that EU has agreed on a range of measures to deal with the crisis.

“This fund meant for supporting development in African countries will be beneficial to the European countries as you know today that most people in Africa prefer to leave African 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 help build their economies instead of seeking refuge in Europe,” he said.

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, this is where we are.

The European Union wants to support digital development in Africa. We will like to provide financing to build strong and healthier economies in developing countries in Africa.”

He said digital development in Nigeria and in other African countries has grown rapidly, noting that internet penetration has grown to over 80 per cent where 100 per cent of Nigerians now has access to Internet services.

“The development was much more rapid when compared to Europe. I believe in digital development for the bright future of Africa,” he said.

He said funds are important for economic development, but stressed that ideas and how to cooperate with other African countries is even more critical to get more assistance of development funds.

He said 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.