Japan on Tuesday agreed to provide a grant aid of N642 million to Nigeria for exploring development strategies that will enhance competitiveness and support poverty reduction efforts.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, signed on behalf of the Nigeria while Japan’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Nigeria, Mr Sadanobu Kusaoke, signed on behalf of his home country.
In addition, the programme is meant to improve the standard of living and ensure environmental sustainability, which is in line with the development priorities encapsulated in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) [2017–2020] of the Buhari administration.
While signing the agreement, Udoma expressed the country’s gratitude to the Government of Japan for its numerous interventions in various sectors of the country’s economy in support of its development aspirations, especially and for aligning its intervention programmes with the ERGP.
He cited the signing, last year, of an Exchange of Note (E/N) with the Government of Japan on Emergency Improvement of Electricity Supply Facilities in Abuja and commended the role Japan played in the development of the National Power Development Master-plan designed to guide government on the optimal energy mix and efficiency for the country.
The Minister also thanked the Japanese Government for the various technical assistance programmes offered in a wide range of skill-areas by that country’s government and the implementation of other grant projects and programmes nationwide through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
“The Economic and Social Development programme for which we are here gathered this morning is also one of such interventions in the sum of Y200,000,000.00 (approximately N642,204,315.79)”, the Minister noted.
He assured of the Nigerian government’s commitment to working more closely with the Government of Japan to achieve sustainable economic development for the country. “We will also continue to explore development options, strategies and paradigms that will engender more mutually beneficial collaborations in support of our long-term friendship”, he added.
The Japanese Ambassador said through his home country’s government has been extending grant aids to Nigeria in different fields over the years, the country considers the grant aid in health and agriculture particularly important because advanced pharmaceutical research and improved agricultural production have direct, positive impact on the quality of life and on the inclusiveness of growth.
He said in view of the demographic and social challenges facing Nigeria, Japan thinks that the ERGP and the Budget and National Planning Minister have rightly put the agricultural sector among the top agenda.
“Echoing this thinking of our colleagues in Nigeria, Japan is working together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for the efficient post-harvest processing of rice crop and improvement of its quality.
I believe this processing method, when adopted widely in this country, could have a huge multiple impact on job-creation and food security as well as the country’s external balance”, Ambassador Kusaoke said.
He also confirmed that in line with the Nairobi Declaration at TICAD VI last year, the Japanese Government is providing $1.75 million for the necessary equipment to the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The equipment will be products of Japan’s highly-specialised small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).