Nigeria seeks Dutch collaboration on human capital development

Nigeria’s Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will appreciate the collaboration of The Netherlands in the area of Human Capital Development.

Osinbajo spoke  at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday when he received  a delegation from the Kingdom of The Netherlands led by its Minister for Foreign Trade and International Cooperation, Mrs Sigrid Kaag.

The vice-president said that the Federal Government was creating economic opportunities for young people and ensuring a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, his  spokesman,  Laolu Akande, informed in a statement.

On the occasion, the vice-president witnessed the signing of a communique on the bilateral consultations between Nigeria and The Netherlands.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr  Sunday Akpan, signed for Nigeria while the visiting Netherlands minister signed on behalf of the Kingdom of The Netherlands.

The vice-president said that one of the primary objectives of investments and Human Capital Development was to promote inclusive growth.

“That is particularly important for us because we have a large population and we also have significant problem of poverty.

” We recognise that our population constitutes a strength, even in potential. And we have been committed to human capital development, especially in the areas of education and healthcare; where we are ramping up our investments.

“What we are trying to do in terms of Human Capital Development is for the Federal Government to intervene so that we are able to encourage the states to do more and to follow much more on the national plan.

“On June 20, the president announced the plan for free and compulsory education for the first nine years of a child’s life and the enforcement of that.

“And it is very important for us in terms of policy because we believe very strongly that if we are able to do so, we will be in a position to strengthen that foundational part of the life of young people because these young people constitute over two-thirds of our population, and they represent, in our view, the strength of the nation going forward in practically every aspect of life.

“We are really committed to Human Capital Development, and that’s an area where we really would appreciate your collaboration, especially with respect to some of what we are doing with young people in terms of training and technology.

“We have, at the moment, about 500,000 people who are engaged in what we call N-Power, where they are given devices with lots of training materials across all the states in Nigeria. They are also trained as extension workers, teachers, in technical areas, building, electronics and technology,” he said.

Osinbajo said that Nigeria was partnering  some of the big companies to look at how to do more in terms of encouraging tech start-ups and also improving broadband connectivity.

He said the Federal Government hoped such efforts  would also help the government’s  plan for financial inclusion.

The meeting discussed ways to further strengthen bilateral economic relations, within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding concluded and signed by the two countries following President Buhari’s visit to The Netherlands in July 2018.

During the meeting focused on concrete areas of closer collaboration and intensified cooperation, the two countries agreed to establish a  working group to focus on the growth of trade and investment between the two countries.

More so, in the overall objective of creating a mutually beneficial business environment, the working group will also pay special attention to youth employment and entrepreneurship.

Other areas of focus for the working group are capacity building, knowledge sharing, and on promoting Dutch and Nigerian private and public investment in the agricultural sector in line with the Buhari administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

In her remarks, Kaag said Nigeria remained a global player and strategic partner of The Netherlands.

She said that The Netherlands Government would establish programmes that would focus on knowledge exchange, capacity building, private sector development and value chain transformation.

On his part, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, the Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, said that The Netherlands bought 47 per cent of Nigeria’s Cocoa.

Awolowo said that Nigeria needed to tap from The Netherlands’ know-how in agro-business and agro-processing.

“The Netherlands is our number one trading partner in Europe; they buy 47 per cent of our cocoa; that is just 2018 figures; it is almost 150 million dollars in raw materials.

“So, we are looking now at agro-processing; value addition; we know untapped potential of our trade to The Netherlands on cocoa oil, cocoa paste; so, we need to get them to buy that from us.

“We also know that they import a lot of aluminium; that is also where we can export and supply them.

“So we really want to take advantage of their knowledge in agro-processing because they have one of the best universities in the world for training on this.

“The idea is to develop more companies that will export to Europe; we must look forward to a new development with innovation on technology and that agreement helps us to seal that,’’ he said.

Also present at the event were Mr Lot Egopija, who represented the Permanent Secretary, Foreign Affairs, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, Yewande Sadiku and other senior government officials from both countries.

Suzan O