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Nigeria: Who are France’s main players helping to grow the relationship?

By The Africa Report
Posted on Thursday, 15 July 2021 16:51

ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – JUNE 4, 2021: Total CEO and Chairman Patrick Pouyanne seen before a plenary session at the 2021 St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), at the ExpoForum Convention and Exhibition Centre. Vladimir Smirnov/TASS/Sipa USA Host Photo Agency/

Team France’s success in Nigeria could rest on a useful blend of officials and commercial leaders working with well-networked grass-roots players

France has become more and more involved in Nigeria in recent years. There are particular individuals that have proved vital to this process.

Patrick Pouyanné

Appointed CEO of TotalEnergies – formerly Total – in 2014, Pouyanné comes from the Elf branch of the organisation, having served as general secretary to the Angolan unit of Elf before it was absorbed into Total in 2000.

In May he announced TotalEnergies’ “intention to transform itself into a multi-energy company to respond to the twin challenges faced by energy transitions: more energy and fewer emissions.”

Nigeria is central to the fortunes of TotalEnergies and a key profit driver. Many of the top Nigeria directors go on to leadership positions in the organisation.

Jean Haas

Haas represented the French national defence industry for sales in West Africa from the early 1980s, founded Relais International consultants and spent the next decades representing Dassault, Alstom, Airbus, Naval Group and others in South Africa and Nigeria. President Emmanuel Macron asked Haas to take over coordination of the France-Nigeria Business Council in 2020.

Jérôme Pasquier

France’s ambassador to Nigeria since 2018, previously in South Korea and Croatia, Pasquier has overseen a number of French investments in Nigeria. He recently led a trade delegation to Cross River State and to visit the deep-sea port under construction in the Lekki Free Zone, which will be operated by French logistics giant CMA CGM. He will also oversee the restitution of artworks looted from the kingdom of Benin.

Franck Riester

Having started out running the family car business, Reister is now the minister delegate for foreign trade and economic attractiveness. He is deeply involved in the quest for new markets in Africa, travelling to Nigeria, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire in recent months to sell President Macron’s New Deal for Africa. He previously served as culture minister.

Jean Sentenac

French hydrocarbons group Axens had failed in several previous bids for refinery contracts. So when the technology partner contract for BUA Group’s refinery was put out to tender, Axens fought hard to head off strong competition from the US company Honeywell UOP, according to sources close to the bid. In 2020 BUA Group finally chose Axens, a deal emblematic of the new Franco-Nigerian cooperation.

This article was first published in The Africa Report’s print magazine. 

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