*VP receives Secretary-General of D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation at Presidential Villa

The current trend in the global economy, climate change and the Ukrainian conflict all present opportunities for closer ties among developing economies especially in refocusing attention on trade and energy access for the benefit of the people, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this Tuesday in Abuja when he received in audience the Nigerian-born Secretary General of the D-8 Organization, Ambassador Isiaka A. Imam at the Presidential Villa.

Nigeria is a member of the D-8 which is an organization for development cooperation among 8 developing countries comprising Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey.

Speaking on the need for closer ties among developing countries such as those in the D-8, the VP said, “this is a very important time for member countries to really focus on the critical issues – trade and energy. But trade in particular, there is a need for greater trade engagements.”

Prof. Osinbajo noted that Nigeria offers great prospect for expanding trade among the D-8 members, noting that “what we all really need to do is to look at how to use Nigeria as a point where you take off from to the AfCTA and some kind of entry way into the AfCTA.

“We think that Nigeria will be able to coordinate the trade routes and opportunities within the AfCTA. For instance, we are very prominent already in banking services all over Africa. I think that is one of the many important areas that we must look at.”

The Vice President said “one of the easiest ways of expanding trade routes is really from the services perspective, especially financial services. And I see that the D-8 is trying to build a payment system. I think that this is one area that we can, very quickly, move things along. This is one of the areas you may be looking at, especially engaging Nigerian banks to see in which ways they can function within the AfCTA and all our partners and member countries of the D-8.”

On Nigeria’s advocacy for a just transition to net zero, the VP urged the D-8 to join in the campaign, noting that “we are at a point where we are arguing about the role of gas in this whole transition to net zero. Whether we can, as it is being proposed by the wealthier countries, dispense with gas and use more of renewables. But we, of course, are pushing back and saying, we must continue to use gas.”

According to him, “our advocacy in the area of energy access is an important consideration in the whole campaign towards net zero. It is possible for the D-8 to take it up because all our countries are faced with more or less the same sort of challenges.”

“Our advocacy for consideration of more investments in fossil fuels especially gas (for us) is one that we think can also be taken up by the D-8.”

Commending the work done by the Organization in the area of social protection and health, especially with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the VP said “I thought that was an excellent opportunity to bring countries together to look at the common problems,” adding that “we shouldn’t lose the platform that was created especially in addressing public health challenges like getting vaccines. Even local manufacture of drugs, we have to develop that capacity.”

“As we saw with the COVID pandemic, we can actually work together, it is an excellent opportunity to develop the collaboration even further,” the Vice President added.

Prof. Osinbajo also commended the renewed vigor by the present secretariat of the D-8 to give it a new direction and create better opportunities that will benefit member countries.

In his remarks, Ambassador Imam said there is a deliberate effort to reinvigorate trade among member countries in the new direction of the D-8, especially improving trade volumes from $121 billion to a new target of about $500 billion by 2030.

He added that plans were underway to establish a D-8 MSME Centre in Abuja as part of efforts to boost trade by building capacity among MSMEs in member countries, noting that the Centre, if realized, “will be a game-changer for members to enhance the capacity and training of MSMEs in branding and quality control.”

The Secretary General was accompanied on the visit to the Presidential Villa by the Organization’s Director of External Relations, Mr. Punjul Nugraha.

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