The United State Agency for International Development (USAID) has disclosed that it is investing $60 million grant fund for trading in West Africa.
United States (U.S.) Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, made the disclosure on Tuesday in Abuja during the launching of the West African Trade Hub.
According to Leonard, the fund will help to improve business operations and capacity of private firms as well as strengthen the linkage between West African business, U.S. and the international business community.
The funding is expected to last over the next five years and hopes to attract a private sector investment of about $300 million, Leonard added.
She said, “For every dollar of public money spent in trade programmes in Africa, we estimate the hubs leverage of nine dollars investment.
“For over 360 million West Africans, the immense potential of their countries” economies have been hindered by roadblocks to investment.
“Forces that should be creating the future have been hobbled by the lack of established business networks and the challenges faced by entrepreneurs.”
The Ambassador also noted that the new hub would work across the region to overcome challenges trading and investment using a market-based approach that would spur economic growth and raise household incomes.
She added, “These partnerships support Nigeria’s efforts to expand its economy through a focus on non -oil based sectors with high growth potential, notably the agriculture sector.
“Nigeria is uniquely positioned to rapidly transform its economy by expanding the agricultural sector and increasing both the productivity and the profit of smallholder farmers.”
With Nigeria as its Centre, activities of the hub are expected to cover Ghana, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, among other West African nations.