Madame Emmanuelle Blatman, the French ambassador to Nigeria, stated that the French government is willing to collaborate with the Kwara State government while also praising Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq for his knowledge of current sustainable development concerns.
Blatman stated that the governor’s emphasis on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), agribusiness, garment production, tourism, renewable energy, and entertainment presents him as a visionary, who truly understands the direction he is headed as a chief executive, during a courtesy visit to Government House, Ilorin, on Tuesday evening.
She said that the French government is ready for an immediate alliance, starting with a meeting between the two nations next month to discuss expanding the Lata Grazing Reserve and forging new paths for socioeconomic development.
According to the envoy, at least ten French companies will be permitted to invest in a variety of enterprises inside the reserve and Kwara economy.
She said: “We want to acknowledge that we have been working on a project dedicated to the Lata Grazing Reserve. A committee will meet in February, in Paris, at the French Treasury to formally award a grant dedicated to the development of the grazing reserve.”
“More than 10 French companies have been successfully mobilised into all necessary and complementary areas such as pasture improvement, animal feeding, veterinary and medicinal animal help; bovine genetics and reproduction; as well as milk production and processing with a leading milk producing company around the world.”
According to her, the feasibility study will be completed by the committee before the contract is signed, and the implementation will start in 2024.
She praised the governor and his staff for promoting state prosperity.
expressing interest in working with Kwara on several of its major initiatives, including the Innovation Hub, the Visual Arts Center, digital literacy, and cultural development, including the promotion of French in local schools and an exchange program that might send some Kwarans to France.
“We are aware of different projects that your government has initiated. If you need any partnership that you would like us to work on, we will be very happy to do so; things like cinematography, filmmaking, fashion, and all those cultural things.
“After the approval in February, it will take about 10 months (the beginning of 2024). This is a grant that was allocated by the French Treasury in response to a need that was expressed by your government,” she added.
Pascal Furth, the embassy’s economic counselor, Sonia Darrace, the agriculture counselor, and Mr. Yohann Narurai accompanied Blatmann on the visit. They were welcomed in Ilorin by the governor and a few of his cabinet colleagues.
In order to stop the ongoing disputes between herdsmen and farmers and to advance food security in the state, AbdulRazaq said the administration has been taking steps to collaborate with France in agricultural and livestock.
He stated: “Our herders are largely on the move. Something has to give to make them more sedentary. There has to be genuine efforts in that direction for the good of all. With rapid evolution, urbanisation, climate change, reduction in water bodies and properties, and grazing land, there will be more challenges for herdsmen and other economic groups. For this reason, we have been seeing conflicts with farmers and others.”
“So, developing grazing reserves and giving land titles to herdsmen will also create food security for us. It will be a win-win situation. That is why we seek your support and expertise in putting up a good master plan (good feasibility study) on the grazing reserve, which will be sustainable. Yes, it will take time to put the programme in place, but it is just important to get it right. We see a great future in partnering with France in agriculture because France seems to be the master of the game in that sector with a lot of expertise.”
The governor added that attention is quickly changing to solar energy as a source of light and a growth engine for the economy as well as other sectors of interest for collaborations, such as the creative industry, energy transition, production, and consumption.