The 24th World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) ended in Abuja Friday; with the organisers announcing that it had pooled $68 billion during the three-day event, for investment in health care, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and other sectors of the African economy.
A Managing Director of WEF, Mr. Phillip Rosler, who gave an account of the event at a concluding joint press conference alongside the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; a former British Prime Minister, Mr. Gordon Brown, and Chairman, Editor-in-Chief of THISDAY Newspapers, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, described the event as very successful.
Rosler said the event "tried as much as possible to create a community of interests and it was very successful," adding that WEFA 2014 surpassed the last edition in South Africa going by the number of articles it generated. According to him, while the last edition in South Africa recorded 16,000 articles, the just-concluded WEFA in Abuja recorded 48,000.
"Secondly, it was not just about creating a community of interests, like our mission which is committed to improving the state of Africa, we had a community of purpose, to put all the money together which was committed in this three days by the Chinese government and others, which would amount to $68 billion over the next few years, for Africa," Rosler said.
Besides other commitments from investors across the globe, who attended the event, the Chinese Premier, China, Li Keqiang had on Thursday told participants at the Forum that China was committing about $30 billion in investment in Africa in the next three years.
"It is not only money. There are projects for the people of Africa, and we are not only here to talk about the problems; we want to change something, he said, noting that terrorism cannot dictate the agenda for Africa
According to him, the participation of over 1,000 participants drawn from more than 70 countries of the world underscored a huge solidarity to Nigeria from across the globe.
"We will not allow terrorists to dictate the African peoples' agenda, and that was, may be, the main message from this World Economic Forum; we have beautiful projects and there is an ongoing project to make all these projects of immense benefit to the people of Africa," Rosler said. In his remarks, Brown thanked WEF for holding the event in Nigeria, which sent a strong message across the universe that Africa is growing, resurgent and that not even terrorism can checkmate the continent's progress.
"I just came from a meeting with the President of Nigeria and I have been talking to him that the international community is prepared to support his determination and that of the Nigerian government to bring back our girls, the girls who have been abducted, to make for safe schools and bring back the educational system in Nigeria so that every girl has the chance to education.
Brown said the United States, United Kingdom, the Chinese and the French governments had offered their support to the Nigerian government in their efforts to locate the girls. Brown, who reaffirmed the determination of the international community in their support to Nigeria to free the abducted school girls said the United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon was sending an envoy on security issues to Nigeria to help bring back.
The erstwhile British leader, who empathised with parents of the girls for the emotional torture they must have been subjected to in the last few weeks, said the uncertainty of the safety of their children was a harrowing experience to the parents.
"Any parent knows that if your daughter or son sent to school and was abducted, the worst possible thing that could happen is not knowing where they are, whether they have been murdered or trafficked or used as sex slaves. We must do everything in our power and we are grateful for the WEF for providing the platform to come out and support the families of those who were abducted."
Also giving her remarks on Nigeria's hosting of WEFA 2014, Okonjo-Iweala said: "We are very grateful to the WEF for this conference, the first in West Africa and Nigeria. We are grateful for the international community for coming here to support us. The attendance has been very strong more than a 1,000 and very few dropped off as a result of the incident. And that underlies the long-term strengths that people see in Africa as well as what they see as the underlying strength of the Nigerian economy.
"Secondly, the forum was a success because it enabled us to mobilise all the participants to support us to bring back the girls. Every single participant here was focused on that issue. The community rallied round the girls to say that we have to bring back the girls. We mobilised international support among them, being the 'Safe Schools Initiative' supported by Gordon Brown and the Nigerian government is one direct outcome of this."
She disclosed that the federal government was determined to partner with the business leaders behind the initiative, stressing: "The government has said it will partner with them on top of what we are already doing to make schools safer. We will also join hands with them to make this work. Mr. president has announced another US$10 million to support the $10 million put in by the business community."