Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, says there is the need for developing countries to foster closer ties and refocus attention on trade and energy access for the benefit of the people.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Tuesday, November 1, 2022, in Abuja, said the vice president spoke when he received in audience the Nigerian-born Secretary General of the Developing 8 (D-8) Organisation, Amb. Isiaka Imam, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Nigeria is a member of the D-8, which is an organisation for development cooperation among eight developing countries – Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.
The vice president said the current trend in the global economy, climate change and the Ukrainian conflict presented opportunities for collaboration among developing economies.
“This is a very important time for member countries to really focus on the critical issues – trade and energy – especially trade where there is a need for greater trade engagements.”
Osinbajo said that Nigeria offered great prospect for expanding trade among the D-8 members.
He said that there was the need to look at how to use Nigeria as a point to explore opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).
“We think that Nigeria will be able to coordinate the trade routes and opportunities within AfCTA.
“For instance, we are already very prominent in banking services all over Africa.
“I think that is one of the many important areas that we must look at.”
The vice president said one of the easiest ways of expanding trade routes is from the services perspective, especially financial services.
According to him, efforts by the D-8 to build a payment system is a good step.
“I think that this is one area that we can, very quickly, move things along.
“This is one of the areas you may be looking at, especially engaging Nigerian banks to see in which ways they can function within the AfCTA and all our partners and member countries of the D-8.”
On Nigeria’s advocacy for a just transition to net zero, Osinbajo urged the D-8 to join in the campaign.
The vice president noted that Nigeria had been arguing about the role of gas in the whole transition to net zero.
“The question is whether we can, as it is being proposed by the wealthier countries, dispense with gas and use more of renewables.
“But we, of course, are pushing back and saying, we must continue to use gas.
“Our advocacy in the area of energy access is an important consideration in the whole campaign towards net zero.
“It is possible for the D-8 to take it up because all our countries are faced with more or less the same sort of challenges.
“Our advocacy for consideration of more investments in fossil fuels, especially gas (for us), is one that we think can also be taken up by the D-8,” he said.
He commended the work done by the organisation in the area of social protection and health, especially with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Osinbajo also applauded the renewed vigor by the present secretariat of the D-8 to give it a new direction and create better opportunities that will benefit member countries.
In his remarks, Imam said there was a deliberate effort to reinvigorate trade among member countries in the new direction of the D-8, especially in improving trade volumes from US$ 121 billion to a new target of about $500 billion by 2030.
He added that plans are underway to establish a D-8 MSME Centre in Abuja as part of efforts to boost trade by building capacity among MSMEs in member countries.
“If realised, it will be a game-changer for members to enhance the capacity and training of MSMEs in branding and quality control,” he said.
The secretary general was accompanied on the visit to the Presidential Villa by the organisation’s Director of External Relations, Punjul Nugraha.
By Chijioke Okoronkwo