23 January 2014

Nigeria: Jonathan in Davos, Calls for Inclusive Economic Growth

President Goodluck Jonathan Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland, said African governments should accord the highest possible priority to promoting inclusive economic growth on the continent.

He said in doing so, problems associated with poverty and financial equality would be avoided. This was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati.

Speaking during a televised debate at the World Economic Forum (WEF), Jonathan said his administration was working assiduously, with a view to enhancing inclusive growth in Nigeria through policies and programmes that focuses on wealth creation rather than poverty alleviation. Asked to rank the current importance of inclusive growth in Africa on a scale of one to 10, Jonathan and all the other participants in the debate which had "Africa's Next Billion" as its theme agreed that it deserved a ranking of 10.

"Economic inclusion is very important and we are already taking necessary steps to improve financial inclusion in our country. Transforming our agricultural sector is one way in which we are doing so.

"We are doing all that we can to transform agriculture in Nigeria into a much more productive and job creating sector. We are also working to create more inclusive wealth through better education, skills acquisition programmes and policies that encourage the addition of value to our primary products before exportation," the president said.

According to him, with Africa's population projected to exceed two billion persons by the year 2050, wealth creation and job creation must remain at the top of the continent's developmental agenda. Jonathan, President John Mahama of Ghana, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and other participants during the debate, agreed that the objective of achieving more inclusive economic growth would be better served if African leaders took more positive action towards boosting intra-African trade.

They said the current situation in which only 11 per cent of Africa's total trade takes place within the continent was unacceptable.

Jonathan noted that African leaders should do everything possible to remove all impediments to trade among African countries, including inadequate air and ground transportation links between their countries.

Contributing further to the debate which focused on actions and measures that needed to be taken by African countries to sustain their currently positive economic growths in the face of changing demographics, Jonathan stressed that all stakeholders in the continent must continue to work for greater security and political stability which according to him, are prerequisites for sustained socio-economic development.

"Security and political stability are key to development. Investors will not come to any country that is insecure or politically unstable. Happily, many African countries now enjoy political stability. It is a major reason for the positive economic growth rates which we are now witnessing on the continent and we must continue do our best to maintain and expand the frontiers of political stability on our continent," Jonathan averred.

He noted that while Africa's private sector must play a greater role in driving economic growth on the continent, governments must also remain proactively engaged in evolving and implementing policies that would enable businesses to thrive and create more wealth on the continent.

Speaking to journalists after the debate, Jonathan said the World Economic Forum on Africa which would take place in Abuja in May this year, would provide a great platform for further exhibiting the immense economic potentials of Nigeria and the West African sub-region to the world's leading investors and companies.He was received by the founder of the World Economic Forum, Dr. Klaus Schwab.

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