WEF Africa 2014 in Nigeria expected to serve as a showcase for Nigerian economic potential

WEF Africa 2014 in Nigeria expected to serve as a showcase for Nigerian economic potential

The 24th World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa is to be held in Abuja, Nigeria, on 7 – 9 May 2014. Nigeria, sub-Saharan Africa’s second-largest economy and the continent’s most populous nation, with over 160 million inhabitants, is a fitting host for this year’s conference.

The forum is intended to bring together regional and global leaders to discuss means of sustaining continent-wide economic growth. In particular, interest will be focused on structural reforms, and investment initiatives aimed at creating jobs and spreading prosperity to citizens of African countries.

Nigeria stands to benefit from hosting the 2014 forum by showcasing its own economic growth and sustainability initiatives, and by drawing attention to its vibrant private sector.

Nigeria is a fitting host for the 2014 forum

At the close of the 23rd WEF Forum held in Cape Town, South African in 2013, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, thanked the WEF for choosing Nigeria as the next host. Okonjo-Iweala noted the aptness of Nigeria’s choice as the 2014 host, highlighting Nigeria’s prominent position in the continent’s economic mix.

Okonjo-Iweala also noted that the high growth rate of Nigeria, coupled to a vibrant private sector meant that Nigeria epitomised the growth potential seen across the continent. At the same time, Nigeria is in the process of dealing with many economic threats and challenges to its continued growth, similar to challenges that face the rest of the continent. In particular, Nigeria seeks to address an infrastructure deficit, and governance issues relating to corruption and transparency concerns.

Nigeria seeks to benefit from hosting the forum by showcasing Nigerian economic potential

Nwanze Okidegbe, chief economic adviser to the president has outlined his views on the opportunities presented by hosting the 2014 WEF Africa. Okidegbe suggests that the Nigerian government seeks to entice global investors, particularly by highlighting Nigeria’s investment potential beyond the oil industry: “…when people think of Nigeria, they think of oil. But we have far more that oil. The non-oil sector is even growing far more. There are lots of investment opportunities in manufacturing, infrastructure, agriculture and so on.”

Moreover, Okidegbe suggests that the forum presents a substantial opportunity for the private sector to benefit from the opportunity to directly approach business leaders from over 80 countries who are expected to attend the forum.

Implementation of economic reform measures is necessary to sustain continent-wide growth

The African continent as a whole is expected to maintain a high economic growth rate, with several countries’ economies projected to sustain growth rates in excess of 5%.  Sustaining that growth rate, and effectively channelling the economic benefits of such growth into improving the lives of those countries’ citizenry are key areas for discussion at the 2014 forum, which will be run under the banner: “Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs”.

Nigeria will also be the first West African country to host the forum, a particularly poignant fact given that the sub-region is considered to be a particularly fast-growing. As noted in a previous KPMG overview of the 2014 WEF Africa: “the large, youth-dominant population of this sub-region, such growth rate momentum is not only welcome, but also represents a potential demographic dividend. In other words, growth in consumer industries, manufacturing, and business process outsourcing can all benefit from a large pool of potential labour.” Skilled labour is vital to maximising the benefits of this demographic dividend, which in turn requires prioritisation of education. President Goodluck Jonathan has recognised this need in his remarks on the upcoming conference: “For Africa to remain relevant, we need to adequately educate our people, as it is through education that we can unlock the potential of our youth to enable Africa to compete globally, and create jobs in the new knowledge economy.”

For more information, see:

 

Nwachukwu, O., ‘Nigeria ready to host WEF Africa, anticipates boom in investments’, Business Day Online (Nigeria), 10 February 2014. Available at: http://businessdayonline.com/2014/02/nigeria-ready-to-host-wef-africa-anticipates-boom-in-investments/

David Okwara

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