I was proud to arrive in Nigeria and begin my third ambassadorial posting last November. 2020 will long be remembered as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will look back and honour the lives of the more than 1.5 million people worldwide who lost their lives to this vicious pandemic. 2020 also marked 60 years of bilateral diplomatic relations between the United States and Nigeria, and much has been accomplished over the course of that time as democracy and a free and open business environment continue to grow. Allow me to provide a bit more detail about accomplishments achieved with our Nigerian partners.
together in times of a health crisis. Over 60 members of the U.S. Mission in Nigeria – from the Centres for Disease Control, USAID, and the U.S. Department of Defence’s Walter Reed Army Institute of Research – stood side by side with their Nigerian counterparts at the National Centre for Disease Control, Presidential Task Force and Nigerian military to strategise, plan, and effectively implement treatment of Nigerian citizens over the past nine months. In 2020, the United States provided more than $73 million in assistance for the COVID-19 response. This includes the delivery of 200 ventilators pledged during a conversation between Presidents Muhammadu Buhari and Donald Trump in April, epidemiological COVID detection surveys, technical assistance, and service plans.
I whole-heartedly congratulated Nigeria in August for attaining a wild polio virus-free status and recognised that no country could have achieved this great feat without the support of its partners. This effort, buttressed by the Centres for Disease Control and USAID investments of approximately $220 million combined over the last eight years, demonstrated the dynamism of state and local activities to strengthen surveillance, join in polio campaigns, create polio outbreak response plans, and encourage routine immunisation.
The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief enrolled its one millionth Nigerian patient this year. Our team has been engaged in a year-long surge activity that is now enrolling 6,000 new patients per week across the country. The National AIDS Indicator Survey armed us with the data we needed to target the disease more effectively. We are doing just that with our partners at the Nigerian AIDS Control Agency, state governors, health commissioners, and state AIDS Control agencies, and the Ministry of Health. Together, we are identifying patients, providing them life-saving treatment, and suppressing their viral loads to levels which can no longer transmit the disease. We are within reach of an AIDS-free generation after 20 years of sustained commitment.
nations has expanded to a value of over $9 billion. The United States is proud to be one of the largest foreign investors in Nigeria. Programmes offered through our Foreign Commercial and Agricultural Services, like Prosper Africa and the West African Trade Hub, will continue to facilitate business that benefits both our countries. During a U.S. Chamber of Commerce December, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy shared that Nigeria’s digital economy contributed more than 17 per cent to the national GDP in 2020. Broadband penetration increased by 10 per cent this year and as more Nigerians engage in secure and reliable online banking and retail, small and medium enterprises will be able to expand their online platforms and services. The United States actively supports the expansion of Internet infrastructure in Nigeria, with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency this year providing over $3.6 million in project preparation assistance aimed at expanding reliable broadband connectivity to thousands of Nigerians.