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As Africa-European Union (EU) Campaign Berths in Lagos, Amb Isopi says: ‘We see Africa from the Lens of Nigeria’

Ambassador Samuela Isopi, on Thursday 27 October 27, flagged off the Africa-EU Campaign in Lagos, Nigeria’s economic hub and biggest city. Representatives of EU Member States, European businesses (EuroCham Nigeria), Nigeria’s business community, youths, the civil society and other friends of Europe witnessed the lunch. Ms Isopi described the campaign as ambitious, the biggest of its kind undertaken by the EU outside its borders. It aims at celebrating the positive impact of the unique partnership between Africa and the European Union.

 

The campaign in Nigeria follows the inspiring stories of Ogola Lois Kange and Frederick Dike, who, leveraging the support provided by the EU, have unleased their transformational entrepreneurial skills to become multipliers and impact their communities.

Federick, 32, is a shoe designer and manufacturer based in Aba, Abia State, South-East of Nigeria. For the past 20 years, he and his team have been manually producing about 250 shoes a week. The EU saw what Federick was doing, and provided him with further knowledge and experience in manufacturing shoes, marketing and branding, as well as book-keeping. Together, the EU and Federick are supporting schools and the surrounding community with much needed shoes.  Frederick is already eyeing the larger West African market.

Ogola Lois Kange, better known as Madam Smiley, is a full time entrepreneur focused on processing healthy food by reducing post-harvest losses of tomatoes. She is the founder of Smiley Kitchen, a cottage tomato processing enterprise based in the North-West state of Kaduna. Ogola is actively supporting and empowering female farmers that provide her with the tomato inputs in an inclusive business approach.

Together with the EU, the potential of what her business could do for farmers and for food security was realised. She received a grant to develop food processing in a way that reduces post-harvest losses for tomatoes. Further funding for equipment, office space and rental for a factory was also given to aid in the success of the business. In light of the remarkable growth, continued support in the form of training, trade fairs and other support initiatives has been implemented.

Ogola has additionally trained over 200 women on entrepreneurship, and she has mentored them to go into cottage industry for agricultural products. Fifty of these women are now successfully starting their own businesses and have become independent.

The journeys of these two heroes underscore how the EU-Nigerian partnership is supporting the emergence of multipliers, who are impacting their communities

The journeys of these two heroes underscore how the EU-Nigerian partnership is supporting the emergence of multipliers, who are impacting their communities, inspiring hopes, and shaping the future.

“The partnership is allowing us to see life through a truly African lens. An Africa that is full of ideas. An Africa that is bursting with ambition, and an Africa that is changing the world by impacting creativity, education, tech, agriculture, healthcare, and entrepreneurship and doing it all sustainably. Through the lenses of Nigeria, we see Africa,” Ambassador Isopi said.

Influential music maestro and entrepreneur, Teniola Akpata (aka Teni), and youthful social media brand influencer, Enioluwa Adeoluwa, were unveiled at the event as the faces of the campaign in Nigeria. They will use their massive followership popularity among Nigeria’s vibrant teeming young population to drive the campaign partnership between the EU and the youths.

Whether it is pushing ahead the digital transformation, making farming more efficient and sustainable, building new infrastructure to reinforce connections between people or shaping the collective security of the continent, what is clear, as Ambassador Isopi observed, is that the EU-Africa partnership is expanding opportunities and reinforcing resilience and forging inclusiveness.

“The vibrancy, dynamism, motivation and resilience of Nigeria’s mainly young population reflect the uniqueness of a continent fired up by imaginative ideas and relentless optimism. From the prism of Nigeria, the EU sees Africa. Our long history of interaction and geographical proximity have over the years, inspired us to be creative and ambitious in the way we confront our common problems; preserve our shared values, and work towards our common interest and goals,” Ambassador Isopi said.

The Africa–EU campaign reflects on some of the initiatives that position the two continents as model, reliable, ambitious and dynamic partners. It also highlights the strength of the partnership, which has brought together peoples and institutions of both continents in pursuit of common goals for a better world.

“We will work with national influencers to express our shared values and aspirations; showcase local success stories generated by our partnership; and connect with a new audience of young Africans, leveraging the pop culture,” the Ambassador said of the initiative.

Africa shares a rich history with the EU, its closest neighbour. Collaborating with Africa to find solution to common challenges is, more than ever before, a key priority for the EU. By strengthening their multi-dimensional cooperation and promoting sustainable development, both continents can co-exist in peace, security, democracy, prosperity, solidarity and human dignity. In the face of big challenges such as pandemics, security, finding green and digital solutions, climate change and migration, Africa and the EU have already proven to be more effective working together.

“Our long history of interaction and geographical proximity have over the years, inspired us to be creative and ambitious in the way we confront our common problems; preserve our shared values, and work towards our common interest and goals,” Ambassador Isopi said.

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