French President, Emmanuel Macron, has assured Nigerians of his desire to assist the country with the growth and development of basketball in the country.
Macron who is on working visit to Nigeria was physically present at the official partnership between the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) in Lagos Wednesday.
He said France's inclusive public development bank is committed to financing and technical assistance for projects that will improve the lives of people in developing and emerging economies.
The two bodies (NBA & AFD) announced their plan to jointly promote social inclusion by developing basketball infrastructure and conducting youth basketball programmes, events and initiatives in Nigeria, Côte d' Ivoire, Morocco, Senegal and other selected African countries.
The formal announcement was made by the President of France at Lycee Francais Louis Pasteur School and also present at the event are AFD Chief Executive Officer, Remy Rioux and NBA Vice President and Managing Director for Africa, Amadou Gallo Fall, NBA Global Ambassador, Dikembe Mutombo, former NBA players, Olumide Oyedeji, Ronny Turiaf, Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Obinna Ekezie, Nigeria's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema and the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Denys Gauer.
The NBA and AFD plan to collaborate on and expand their mutual and longstanding commitment in Africa by providing basketball equipment and training to youths and coaches and teaching life skills in selected African countries.
They also plan to provide resources to local organisations and community leaders that focus on sustainable coaching, mentoring and leadership development.
"We are thrilled to partner with the NBA in Africa because sport and sustainable development are a natural match. Basketball is the second most popular sport on the continent and it can be a powerful driver for sustainability, addressing unmet needs in urban development, education and creating fresh opportunities for African youths," the AFD Chief Executive Officer, Rioux remarked Wednesday.
In his response, the NBA Vice President and Managing Director for Africa, Gallo Fall said, "we look forward to collaborating with AFD to scale up our existing efforts on the continent and to identify new opportunities to use the transformative power of basketball as a platform for youth empowerment across the continent," he stated.
The NBA has a long history of engagement in Africa with 12 African-born players featured on NBA rosters at the start of the 2017/18 season. There are more than 80 current and former NBA players from Africa or with direct family ties to the continent, including Naismith Memorial Basketball, Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo of Democratic Republic of Congo.