Representatives of Diaspora Nigerians worldwide have hailed the African Development Bank (AfDB) for its support to transformational projects in Nigeria and Africa.
In a statement issued by the Nigeria Country Department of the bank on Friday, said the representatives, which comprised women and youth groups praised the bank at a forum.
The statement said the forum was organized by the bank as part of its ongoing mid-term review strategy for Nigeria.
The AfDB’s Director-General for Nigeria, Mr Lamin Barrow, while declaring open the forum, expressed the hope that the interactive forum would allow for frank exchanges on the bank’s activities, projects and programmes in the country.
Barrow reiterated the bank’s commitment to participation by women, youth, the diaspora and other key groups in processes that inform the institution’s initiatives in its regional member countries.
“Stakeholder groups play key roles in driving innovation and entrepreneurship to unlock opportunities in various sectors, including agri-business, industry and the digital economy,” he said.
Mrs Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, the Senior Special Assistant to Nigeria’s President on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), commended the bank for its leadership in engaging national and sub-national actors.
Orelope-Adefulire said the high-level stakeholder engagement was timely and strategic.
“This is the first time we are seeing a multilateral development finance institution do this in the recent past,” she said.
Mrs Abike Dabri-Erewa, Chairperson of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, thanked the AfDB for its support to women as well as reaching out to the Diaspora.
Dabiri-Erewa, however, said more could be done.
She urged the bank to host more Diaspora-related initiatives, adding that the Diaspora Commission looked forward to working more closely with the bank in this area.
Also speaking, Mr Femi Boyede, President of the Nigeria Trade and Investment Centre, Canada, encouraged members of the Diaspora to consider clustering for project partnership.
According to him, this will have more impact than concentrating on just remittances.
Mr Omololu Duyile, the Managing Director of Riyden Farms, an agribusiness, expressed the hope that the bank would build the capacity of Nigerian entrepreneurs and better connect them to the global market.
Mrs Lola Visser-Mabogunje, an advisor on stakeholder engagement to the President of the AfDB said the sessions helped increase stakeholders’ awareness and understanding of the bank’s operations in Nigeria and beyond.
Other participants urged the bank to promote the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area and to extend financial support and training more effectively to women, small and medium enterprises and smallholder farmers.
They suggested that this would enable them to take advantage of the bank’s Special Agriculture Processing Zones (SAPZ) initiative.
More than 200 participants received updates on the bank’s work in Nigeria and discussed projects in agriculture, on the digital economy, the creative industry, trade and private enterprise.
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