EYEBROWS were raised few days ago when there was an official announcement that schools, offices and governmental parastatals would be shut down so that Nigeria can host a peaceful World Economic Forum,WEF. This generated contrasting reactions from pundits. Why ‘shut down’ an entire nation’s capital just to accommodate about 1000 delegates from70 or so countries.
While critics believed the nation was not in the right frame of mind to host the world and thus should focus on fighting the insecurity currently plaguing it, optimists thought otherwise. According to economists, this was an opportunity for the nation to improve its economic viability by attracting direct foreign investors and improve the economy. Being the first West African nation to host the World Economic Forum albeit African edition, it would be a demonstration of the confidence the world has in Nigeria as one of six fastest growing economies in the world. This would also show the relevance of Nigeria in the global economy.
In a similar vein, it is also asserted that the WEF which held here is a proof of global leaders’ increasing confidence in the nation’s economic potential. It is hoped that the Federal Government would have articulated its investment policy thrusts at the forum properly with a view to engendering global investors’ interest. This is also an opportunity for the government to instigate the industrialisation of the economy. This will aid the achievements of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, in terms of productivity and could be linked to the manufacturing sector for national competitiveness in the global exports market.
The event may not have come at a better time. Just few months ago, the country announced result of the rebasing of its economy, which resulted in Nigeria leapfrogging South Africa to emerge the biggest economy in Africa. It is expected that the economic forum will complement the nation’s efforts to translate its improved Gross Economic Product into an improved standard of living for the citizens. It is no more news that, the GDP rebasing exercise had become a major macroeconomic performance barometer by which international investors now use to interpret Nigeria’s economic opportunities and its investment possibilities. Thus, there is need for stakeholders to exploit this begging opportunity to explore Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement that will help in bridging the huge infrastructure financing gap.
The WEF which was launched in 1990 has its major aim of development and growth of countries especially Africa via provision of massive employment. The forum which has been hosted by countries like Zimbabwe, Tanzania is billed to serve as succour in developing local industries and aiding direct foreign investment in mostly developing nations. The forum has taken major strides in identifying local industries which are seen as potential trailblazers, shapers and innovators committed to improving the state of the world. The companies believed to be Global Growth Companies (GCC) represent a broad cross-section of industrial sectors. They also have in common a track record of exceeding industry standards in revenue growth, promotion of innovative business practices and demonstration of leadership in corporate citizenship
The hosting of the Forum in Nigeria was not a mere formality as six out of the 16 Global Growth Companies are Nigerian companies. It is pertinent to say that, these 16 companies are at the forefront of driving responsible economic growth, job creation and entrepreneurism in Africa. The whole scenario will only remain a hypothesis if the nation doesn’t take all necessary action to ensure the feasibility of the mouth watering opportunity at stake in the WEF, Africa.
The issue of insecurity remains a gnawing pest in the flesh of Nigeria and thus is a threat to any form of development in the country. There is no doubt the government has put virtually everything it has to see to the end of insurgency but there is still much to be done to see that businesses thrive conveniently in the nation.
The government has been lauded considerably on its recent stride in its bid to improve electricity in the country. But, there is need to hasten the current power distribution projects across the country to ensure diversified businesses in the private sector. No doubt, the just concluded WEF is a step in the right direction.
MOSHOOD ISAH, a public affairs commentator, wrote from Abuja.