The French Government on Thursday launched a miniature digital fabrication laboratory it built for the University of Jos, in Central Nigeria.
The near 50X100 size laboratory is equipped with 128 equipment and accessories – a design workstation, 3D printer workstations, computer numerical control machines, electronic work bench, mechanical workstation and art/craft workstation.
It is a result of an existing partnership the University has with France, for “prudence and staff exchange”, said Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Sebastian Maimako.
France's interventions in the University started in 1980, expanding in the last decade with the sponsorship of five University of Jos staff in French Universities, and the establishment of a climate change research decade in the University.
The new Fablab is the first of its kind, likely in Nigeria. Students of engineering from the country previously took manufacturing courses online at $5,000USD for Diploma certificates, said the Project Coordinator and Dean, Faculty of Engineering, University of Jos, Prof. Stephen Mallo.
The Fablab will however reduce the stress, as a place where “creative ideas are hatched, rapid prototyping is done as well as mentorship, learning and innovation takes place,” said Mallo.
It is meant to facilitate “learning, research and innovation” for staff and students in the University and the entire human society where it will be needed, said the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jerome Pasquier.
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, represented by his Commissioner for Higher education, Goteng Audu, praised the French Government for the donations, pleading for other institutions owned by the State to be considered as well.
Nigeria - France relationship (see reference)
Nigeria is France’s leading trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, and the fourth leading in Africa, behind Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. In 2019, trade between the two countries amounted to €4.479 billion. In 2018, Nigeria ranked 28th among suppliers to France in the world. Conversely, Nigeria was France’s 60th customer. Moreover, with an FDI stock of €9.4 billion in 2018, France is one of Nigeria’s leading investors.
Culture is yet another area France and Nigeria’s cooperation is particularly extensive. The Institut Français in Nigeria, in Abuja, and the network of 10 Alliance Française branches are at the heart of France’s cultural activities in Nigeria.
Regarding education, the Agency for French Education Abroad runs the École Française Marcel Pagnol of Abuja and the Lycée Louis Pasteur of Lagos, and is a partner of the École Française Total of Port Harcourt. The Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects helps develop French language education opportunities in Nigeria’s higher education system. The number of French language learners in Nigeria is steadily rising.
In the area of development, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) focuses on the diversification of the economy of the country, the low carbon energy transition and sustainable and productive farming to ensure food security.
Since 2018, the AFD has been working in new sectors: higher education, water and sanitation, cultural and creative industries and digital technology. From 2010 to 2018, the AFD funded 30 projects in Nigeria totalling €1.5 billion in undertakings.
Nigeria and France equally have strong partnerships in the area of security, but much of such details are classified and hardly unavailable, except for training, humanitarian aid and other less classified interventions. Generally, security and defence cooperation from the government of France aims to provide support to Nigeria’s army, navy and police forces.