This Day (Lagos)

3 April 2014

Nigeria: World Economic Forum - Okonjo-Iweala Reassures Global Community On Safety

The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has reassured the global community that in spite of the security challenges in some parts of the North, the safety of participants at the forthcoming World Economic Forum (WEF) in Abuja, is guaranteed.

To underscore the peace pervading the nation's capital, the minister said the just-concluded week-long seventh Joint Conference of the African Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), provided a test case, adding that no fewer than three high ranking officials of the United Nations, including the Deputy Secretary General and the second-in-command of the global body were in attendance. The minister said no fewer than 1,800 high ranking officials from across the globe participated at the event, which was hitch-free.

Okonjo-Iweala, who briefed journalists on Nigeria's preparations for the event, in Abuja yesterday, said while acknowledging that Nigeria is facing some security challenges in some parts of the country just as other nations, hosting the WEF would not pose any security problems.

The minister said the sophistication of those coming for the event was not in doubt, adding that they get up-to-date information on the security situation in the country from various channels, including their embassies in the country, and form their opinion. She noted that they were aware that the security situation in Nigeria is not as bad as being portrayed. Okonjo-Iweala declared that everything that needed to be done was being put in place, including security to ensure the safety of delegates who will converge on Abuja to proffer solutions to Africa's unemployment challenges under the theme: "Forging Inclusive Growth and Creating Jobs."

The choice of Nigeria as host of the event, she said, "is a measure of confidence on Nigeria's economy," noting that a strategic economic diplomacy tool, the WEF Africa Abuja conference would provide a veritable platform for foreign investors to interact with the large pool of domestic industrialists to partner on investments within and outside the country.

"Nigeria is bringing a lot of things to the table because the country is seen as a dynamic economy with the potentials to lead the African Continent in a short while. So we are going to showcase our people because we have very mature business people here who are investing in other countries. We would show case the investible sectors. We already have a publication on the opportunities existing in the country and we will be organising to show them around some of these potentials that we have in agriculture; the solid mineral sector; the petroleum sector and even the film industry."

"When the delegates come, some of who will investors they will find they have local partners. We fully expect that it will result in additional business interest down the line here that they can do business together. We are also expecting the World Bank Group will participate, from MIGA IFC. They will be here to back up the WEF and will have opportunity of our business men and women interact with them than you will find at Davos," she said.

She promised that Nigeria will showcase its best during the event, adding that it would draw foreign direct investment into the country.

although she said focus should not be lost focus on the fact that the nation currently enjoys what she described as Domestic Direct Investment (DDI) from notable local investors such as the Dangote Group, Flour Mills, Chief Mike Adenuga, Honeywell Group, Bua Group, Innoson Group, and Chikason, among others.

According to her, when aggregated, investments from local industrialists might outstrip Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows.

Nigeria is the first West African country to host the bi-yearly WEF meeting which traditionally holds in Cape Town ,South Africa and only held outside South Africa in Tanzania and Ethiopia apiece.

The forum is jointly financed by the Davos, Swiss-based World Economic Forum; the federal government and the private sector organisations in Nigeria.

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