Beyond The WEF Africa


Notwithstanding the lingering security
concern in the country that was
worsened by the abduction of  over 200 Chibok school girls by the Boko Haram insurgents, the world was literally in Nigeria on May 7 – 9, 2014 for the World Economic Forum (WEF)  Africa.
The summit, which held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, was the 24th edition and adjudged one of the best organised. Within the period, Abuja was literarily shut down, as offices and major commercial concerns closed shop to allow easy access for participants that came from across the globe.
The event, which brought together some 1,800 regional and global leaders – unprecedented in the history of the summit – was centred on the theme, “Forging Inclusive Growth and Creating Jobs for Africa’s Growing Population.” The attendance of heads of government and businesses across the world clearly underscored the faith and confidence the world has on Nigeria.
This prestigious conference had been hosted by South Africa, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Nigeria being the largest economy in Africa, could not have been left out. Indeed, Nigeria’s Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said, “Nigeria is seen as a dynamic  economy with interesting prospects… that it is seen as attracting strong macro capital ability, and also the  ability… especially, agriculture, petrochemical and manufacturing because we have a large consumer base”.
The WEF, as it were, is an organisation committed to improving the economy of the world and its citizens, with particular interest in arousing competitiveness of all countries in the global economy. Thus, its focus on Africa promises to be positively impactful on the continent. As expected, the Abuja summit helped to x-ray some developmental challenges in Africa and what can be done about them.
Interestingly, at the end of the three-day event, a commitment for $68 billion (N11.22 trillion) investment was made. The Managing Director, WEF, Africa, Philip Roster, said the  commitment was secured for various sectors of the African economy. He said that the money would be invested in key sectors, including education, health, infrastructure and agriculture.
Also seen as dividend of the summit is the proposed $30 billion investment in Africa by China and 18,000 scholarships to African Professionals to study in China. Clearly, the impact of the summit will not be forgotten for some time, but African leaders must leverage on the benefits of the summit to better the lot of Africa and its people in the immediate future.
While we applaud the Federal Government and all its relevant agencies for a very successful and hitch-free summit, The Tide is of the opinion that WEF Africa Summit has opened some channels for foreign capital flow and expertise that African leaders must know how to manage. They have a lot to do to change the way things are done and to accommodate global best practices.
The world would want to see political stability and not coup d’etat or sit-tight leaders who have overstayed their welcome. Africa must shun corruption and eliminate situations that breed corruption, provide good governance, security and infrastructural development.
It is imperative that Africa captures a substantial part of the global market by applying international best practices and building on regional cooperation. Here, the idea of cutting corners and producing fake and sub-standard goods must stop as it only opens market for other countries.
For a nation rated by the World  Bank to be among the poorest in the world, the hosting of the summit should be seen as yet another opportunity  for critical  reappraisal  of Nigeria’s social and  economic policies  with a view to lifting its 170 million people and indeed  Africans above the poverty line.
After the WEF Africa summit, it now behoves African leaders to move beyond rhetorics and work the words with positive action, tackling the challenges of security, infrastructure development and job creation to ensure sustainable growth.