France, Nigeria sign business pacts as Boko Haram seen weakened

France signed business and bilateral trade agreements with Nigeria as President Francois Hollande visited the country to pledge further support against Boko Haram at a summit dedicated to fighting the Islamist militant group.

Nigeria has made good progress against a weakened Boko Haram and driven them out of many territories, Hollande told reporters Saturday in Abuja, the capital. He spoke before a meeting that will be attended by presidents of Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin, as well as representatives of the U.S., U.K and European Union. France will continue to support the struggle against the group by providing military support, equipment and trading, he said.

“Terrorism is feeding on all the weaknesses of the financial system so therefore we have to fight corruption, the underground economy as well as tax havens,” Hollande said. “And these has indeed an impact on the terrorist groups and their ability to finance arms trafficking as well as terror attacks.”

The seven-year conflict waged by Boko Haram has killed thousands and caused at least $9 billion in damage, according to government estimates. While the Jihadist group still continues to carry out suicide bombings and massacres in remote villages, it no longer controls big expanses of territory as it did a year ago after the war spread to Nigeria’s neighbors, spilling over into Cameroon, Chad and Niger and displacing as many as seven million people, according to the U.S. government.

France and Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, signed technical, scientific and cultural cooperation pacts, a treaty to support the country’s agricultural industry and are working on a defense agreement, the French president said. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari thanked France’s support for the fight against Boko Haram and helping to stabilize the region politically and economically.

– Bloomberg