…As Nigeria still enjoys France’s ZPS classification
…French Nigerian investments in excess of $5bn by 2019
Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
Although Anglo-Dutch Shell declared recently its disinterest in continuing with its oil business in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, after more than half-a-century, with distasteful reports of environmental despoilation, Total Corporation, French global energy firm, which set foot in Nigeria since 1962, says it is not leaving the territory of the African oil top producer.
Total’s Chairman/CEO Patrick Pouyanne, promised that its company would not exit the country, despite its challenges in oil business.
Already, the development has excited Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari who has commended the Total Chief Executive Officer for the company’s consistency and expansion in Nigeria since 1956, assuring that the government will enhance fiscal stability that will favour investors.
Buhari provided the assurance while holding expanded meetings with French business class: Pouyanne, including Executive Vice President, AirBus, Silvere Delaunay; Chairman of the Board of software company, Daussault Systems, Florence Verzelen; Chairman/CEO of General Engineering and Marketing of Telecommunications Operator, Francois-Regis Teze; and Chairman/CEO, Donaflex Automotive, Donatus Nwokoye, a very successful manufacturer.
In a meeting with a delegation from Total, President Buhari said the outlook and potentials for growth in Nigeria have remained steadily positive, affirming his government’s commitment to scale up operating standards and policies that encourage mutual benefits.
“We are very pleased with the evolving trends in technology, which is currently driving development across the world and Nigeria. Nigeria is more a gas country than a crude oil producing country. In the 80’s we generated more from gas, than crude oil. In the 1980’s, we were earning more from gas for some years, and had put in place structures. We intend to further explore the gas sector. I am pleased with your consistency in staying in Nigeria, the Nigerian president said.
France has enjoyed smart business relationship with Nigeria for over 50 years. And the European third largest economy after Germany and the UK, had decades ago classed Nigeria as belonging to its ZPS – Zone Prioritaire de Solidarité Française [France’s Zone of Priority].
Reports say France’s total investments in Nigeria stood at more than $5 billion (N2 trillion at $/N exchange of N400) as of 2019. These are said to be way higher that France’s total investments in all its former African colonies put together.
The country has also made ample donations to favour Nigeria’s quest at learning and speaking of the French language – being geostrategyically located where it is surrounded by Francophone neighbours.
President Buhari said investors should take advantage of the natural and human resources in Nigeria; pointing out that the demographics favour development, with more young people who are eager to be gainfully engaged and trained.
“We need to educate the youth and encourage more skills in technology. Technology has been most impactful in all sectors, including the oil and gas, which has witnessed rapid transformation in exploration, processing and distribution,’’ the president added.
The Chief Executive of Total said investors have been eagerly waiting for Nigeria’s passing of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which he said will send a strong signal of more predictability in Nigeria.
“Total is very committed to Nigeria. We have no intention of leaving Nigeria,” he added.