Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation. In spite of its oil wealth, about two-thirds of its estimated 160 million population lives on less than one US dollar per day.
Long periods of military misrule, mismanagement of resources and poor governance led to widespread poverty and low socio-economic indicators. However, since the reintroduction of democracy in 1999, Nigeria is today a positive example of an emerging democracy, showing clear progress towards better governance and respect for human rights. Improved peace and security, the bolstering of governance and human rights and boosting trade and regional integration, are the targets of EU-Nigeria cooperation.
Cooperation steadily expands
Nigeria has never been an aid-dependent country. Its own financial resources from oil and gas exports far outweigh those that can be provided by donors. However, the EU considers that external aid could play a role in enabling the authorities to make better use of their own resources, particularly by supporting the government's own initiatives to improve governance. The country has undertaken important reforms in public financial management, in particular to fight corruption.
Inspite of the oil sector’s dominance, it is the non-oil sector that is fuelling growth. Sustainable expansion of agriculture is expected to play a big part in unleashing future economic growth. On the political front, the country is considered as an emerging democracy. However, it faces an Islamist insurgency – Boko Haram – in the North and renewed instability in the Niger Delta.
The West African country is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on universal primary education, greater gender equality and women’s empowerment. Other MDGs are further from reach: poverty reduction, child mortality and maternal health.
Over the past decade, EU-Nigeria cooperation has steadily expanded. It is grounded in the ‘EU-Nigeria Joint Way Forward’ agreed between the EU and Nigeria in 2009. This outlines the priorities for bilateral EU-Nigeria cooperation. The 10th EDF Country Strategy Paper sets out the priorities for EU funding to the country, 2008-13.
The 10th EDF programme for Nigeria, jointly drawn up with the Federal Republic of Nigeria, allocates €677 million for the period 2008-13. The three priority areas for programme and project funding are:
- peace and security,
- governance and human rights,
- trade and regional integration.
The joint cooperation strategy targets poverty alleviation – Nigeria ranking 156 out of 187 states in the 2011 UN Human Development index – governance and development of the Niger Delta region.
The cooperation strategy focuses on governance reforms – at all three levels of government – the fight against corruption; migration and trafficking and tackling organised crime and bringing about reforms in the justice sector. It also encourages improved oversight and monitoring capacity of non-state actors and the mass media.
Trade, regional integration and energy security all receive new impetus with a view to improving Nigeria’s competitiveness, its meaningful participation in regional integration and boosting trade to assist the country’s integration into the world economy. Environment and climate change are also among the new areas of cooperation under the 10thEuropean Development Fund (EDF) – the EU’s development funding instrument for the country, 2008-13.