THE World Economic Forum for Africa, WEFA, in Abuja, the 24th in the series, was a success, even in the gloom of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, and the further security anxieties that surrounded the event.
The same security concerns seemed to have brought more attention to the plight of the girls, generating promises of international assistance for Nigeria’s security challenges.
Managing Director of WEF, Philip Rosler, threw up figures that supported possible benefits for Africa and Nigeria from the summit.
He told the media that investors pooled $68 billion for Africa. China, with $30 billion, committed nearly half of the sum.
Nigeria confirmed her commanding economic status as the summit generated 48,000 articles compared to 16,000, the highest recorded when South Africa hosted it. The summit attracted more than 1,000 participants from over 70 countries. It provided Africa with a strong platform to project itself to the world as a huge unexplored market that matters, no matter its challenges.
President Goodluck Jonathan, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, backed by a battery of African technocrats, stood together with delegates from other parts of the world to successfully accomplish the mission of selling Africa to a world that often focuses on the crises on the continent, often ignoring the prospects they bear.
The obvious downside was the shutdown of the nation’s capital to ensure the safety of the delegates. The opportunities of seeing Nigerians in their normal, daily elements and having fulfilling tourism diets from the huge menu Nigeria offers were lost. These could have had more positive impact on our economy.
With the summit, at the height of the global Bring-Back-Our-Girls campaign, it added an impetus to the search for the abducted girls and the efforts to end the menace of the insurgency in Nigeria and the sub-region. Major powers and our allies found a mustering point against the evils of terrorism.
Nigerians should build on the success of WEFA, by casting aside unhealthy politicking and building on drivers that can take Nigeria out of ignorance, poverty, violent crimes and more insurgencies that they could breed.
The work starts now. The proposed investments are for countries with conducive settings for investments. Nigeria still has a lot of work to do in providing infrastructure that would support businesses and industries. It is gratifying to note that some of the proposed investments would be on infrastructure.
An important lesson from WEFA is that outsiders would only help to build our continent. Africans must realise that they would play vital roles in pulling our people out of the limitations of ignorance and poverty. The world watches, and may just assist.