West Africa Is Not Ready For Single Currency – Isemede

vlcsnap-2014-07-22-17h12m47s210As West African countries plan monetary union that will see all countries under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) maintain a single currency, the Director of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture,(NACCIMA) says the region is not ready for such development. 

Speaking on Channels Television’s Program, Business Morning, on Tuesday, Mr John Isemede said that West Africa was not ready for the single currency because most Francophone countries had no control over their interest rate or exchange rate, a situation that would create chances of over devaluation of other countries’ currencies.

“We have been on the project for over 10 years. Ghana and Nigeria was not devaluated the same day but the Francophone countries were devaluated the same day.

“We  don’t have ECOWAS central bank and should get a central bank by oraganising the sub-region, before planning to unify the currency in African countries. We have to put our house in order and put the sub-region as one body,” he emphasised.

The Director General of NACCIMA insisted that “before ECOWAS begins to promote the single currency and businesses, West Africa needs to make the region a conducive place for business”.  He suggested that the monetary agency should use their own local currency through their Central Bank to import goods from Ghana to Sierra- Leone and other parts of African countries.

Another guest on the programme, a columnist, Mr Gabriel Idahosa, also pointed out that ECOWAS was not ready for the change, citing the inflation level of most African countries as a big challenge.

He also stressed that most of the criteria set for African countries as development goals had not been met because of high rate of inflation.

“Most African countries are still struggling to meet the criteria. You will first have to meet the criteria and run it for three to four years by keeping the deposit by four per cent and then a common currency emerges,” he said.

Idahosa called on West African governments to open up the physical structure by making business move freely across the border of most African countries.

Mr Isemede and Mr Idahosa’s comments are coming few days after the Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said that the lunching of a Single Currency for the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) by January 2015 might not be feasible.

At a meeting of the West African Central Bank Governors held in Abuja on July, Mr Emefiele called on leaders in the region to redouble efforts in maintaining fiscal and monetary supervision in their countries.

“It is unlikely at this time. Despite this disappointing update, we need to use the new period created by this to redouble our efforts toward the final realisation of this objectives.

“In this regard, there is need for the intensification of effort towards meeting the laid down convergence material, in sensitisation of all stakeholders in the ratification of various West African monetary zone protocols and in their consequent implementation,” Mr Emefiele said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Implementing Necessary Reforms Will Maximise Gains Of WEFA – Zainab

Zainab-UsmanThe Nigerian government has been urged to make conscious effort in reforming the system in order to maximise the gains expected from the just concluded World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA).

A communication consultant for the WEFA, Zainab Usman, on Wednesday, said that with adequate reforms and commitments by the government, the inclusive growth that the forum dwelt on would be achieved, with more jobs created for African youths.

At the 24th meeting of the WEFA held in Nigeria between May 7 and 9, several financial commitments were made capable of reducing poverty in Africa and improving Africans’ living standard.

China pledged to increase its credit line to Africa from $20 billion to $30 billion while Dangote group pledged to invest about $16 billion in the Nigerian economy in his petrochemical plant.

Needed Political Will

In the education sector, at least 20 million dollars was pledged for the Safe School Initiative aimed at ensuring that schools in Nigeria’s north east are safe for students.

For all these funds coming into Africa to yield needed results, Zainab said the government must have the needed political will to take needed decision that would ensure that these funds are well deployed.

“There is a link between the bureaucratic processes in Nigeria and other African countries and how they are able to access or utilise funds but reforming the government or public sector institutions is not just an easy process. It is not something that can be easily carried out just because the fund has been made available. It requires a lot of political will in making the environment conducive for business to thrive.

“Things like speedy registration of companies and ensuring that the workforce is efficient and effective and not bloated should be looked into. If we want efficiency we will have to take some hard decisions that will help transform the system,” she said.

Inclusive Growth

She, however, expressed optimism that expected results would be seen based on the level of commitment shown by local and foreign investors at the forum.

“We have seen a lot of commitment from participants at the forum, from policy makers, civil society and the private sector. We have seen commitment in terms of healthcare, power and agriculture. We have the Go Africa Initiative. We have seen commitment in education, with the Safe School Initiative, focusing on the north east.

“Yes there have been quite a lot of commitments by the private sector both local of foreign.

“The government should have the right regulatory framework and policies that would enable these investments grow. It is supposed to be a synergy between the private sector and the government,” she said, stressing that for the private sector actors to be able to redeem pledges made, they also require the government to create a conducive environment. “The government has to be an active partner in this”.

Zainab explained that the Go Africa Initiative is looking to involve small holder farmers or people at the grassroots for the inclusive growth to be achieved in high scale.

With initiatives in education, access to financing will ensure that the people at the grassroots are able to partake in the growth.

“The plan is to move away from previous approaches so they are involving more persons. The realisation is that unless you include ordinary people in the growth process the inclusive growth that we seek would not be achieved”.

Africa has grown in the past decade but the growth is only proportionate to just a few people and the need to make it inclusive was emphasised at the forum that had over 1,100 participants from over 80 countries in attendance.

The forum had emphasised that to include the mass majority of people in the growth, it is important to ensure that they have access to adequate information, education and healthcare.

World Economic Forum On Africa Closes

World Economic Forum on AfricaThe World Economic Forum on Africa holding in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, has come to an end after three days of deliberations that focused on making growth recorded in Africa all-inclusive while creating jobs for Africa’s over 40 million unemployed people.

The forum started on Wednesday with the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, asking the participants to “think big” and proffer solutions to Africa’s challenges of insecurity, unemployment, power and infrastructure deficit. They were also asked to explore the potentials that Agriculture holds in creating needed jobs.

Over 1,100 delegates from over 80 different countries attended the event with the Theme, “Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs”.

Heads of Governments and Statesmen, CEOs of global firms, leading financiers and policy and development technocrats, where at the forum that provided Nigeria with an immense and unique opportunity for economic and cultural diplomacy.

At different sessions, the challenges of insecurity and conflicts in some parts of Africa including Nigeria were mentioned with emphases on the need to create jobs for the youth, as a way to end the crisis.

African leaders were asked to educate Africa’s children, explore all possible energy sources and channel the funds generated from enormous resources in the continent to infrastructure improvement.

Experts in different sectors of the world economy were part of discussants at different sessions providing strategies that could be adopted to achieve the set Millennium Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

Africa has seen steady rapid growth in the last two decades with the fast growing economies of the world in the continent., a development that has made the continent a destination of investment.

Nigeria, the host of the event, is Africa’s largest economy, but is facing security crisis, as insurgents in the north east has carried out series of attacks on Churches, schools and villages, with an attack on a school in Chibok on April 14, resulting in the abduction of over 200 school girls.

Efforts are ongoing to rescue the girls, with world powers providing Nigeria support in the rescue operation.

In 2015, South Africa will host the 25th edition of the World Economic Forum.

Fixing Electricity Will Increase Investments In Agriculture Sector – Experts

power_transmission_equipmentSome experts at the just concluded World Economic Forum on Africa have urged African governments to fix electricity in order to attract investments in the agriculture sector and at the same time create jobs.

Agriculture is said to have the potential of creating more jobs than other sectors of the economy.

Key areas such as commodity exchange, technology and infrastructure were identified as areas that could frustrate the government’s efforts to forge inclusive growth and create more jobs in Nigeria and in the African continent.

For many years, the agriculture sector in Nigeria has suffered neglect, political mismanagement and gross inefficiency of storage facilities.

This issue among others in the sector took the centre-stage at various Friday’s meetings at the World Economic Forum on Africa that  ended on Friday.

Participants highlighted logistics as one of the expensive areas for farmers and Nigeria currently struggles with this.

The discussion by the participants is straight forward. Agriculture, which holds huge potential for growth besides the downstream sector, also promises high return on investment.

They also pointed out that collaboration between the government and private sector was crucial to scale up the agribusiness.

At the session Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture said the Nigerian government had put some strategies in place to make agriculture more attractive for the youth, stressing that agriculture is huge business.

Jonathan Requests For Satellite Technology In Tracking Chibok Girls

Women-protest-Chibok-girls-abductionPresident Goodluck Jonathan has called on countries with advanced satellite technology to assist Nigeria in tracking the over 200 girls abducted by northern Islamic militants, Boko Haram in Chibok, Borno State.

In a discussion on Friday, at the just concluded World Economic Forum on Africa held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, President Jonathan said that such support would aid the search for the girls who were abducted on April 14 after the insurgents destroyed their school, the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok.

The discussion at the forum was on Inclusive Development Strategies and their role in restoring peace and security in Africa and panellists harped on citizen centred-inclusive growth with agriculture as a solution for ending various crises in the continent.

On the last day of the forum Africa’s fragility and inclusive development strategies to restore peace and security in order to revitalise investment in troubled regions formed part of discussions to wrap up the global talks on Africa.

President Jonathan, seated among captains of industries from around the world, brainstormed on the key things to concentrate on to turn Africa’s fragility into prosperity and key among the issues was the fight against terrorism, insurgency and trans-national crime.

Participants say that Africa has a very strong balance sheet and only need to invest in agriculture on which over 75 per cent of Africans depend.

The Joint CEO, Standard Bank Group, South Africa, Simpiwe Tshabalala and the Director, Africa the One Campaign, South Africa, Sipho Moyo, were discussants at the session that focused on inclusive growth and development.

They said: “Agriculture backed by political will and strong policies as well as unrelenting fight against trans-national organised crime with its fallout of terrorism and insurgency is the way forward and the key strategy against fragility in Africa today and for tomorrow’s prosperity.

Nigeria has experience different terrorists attacks within the last five years and most of the attacks have been carried out by the Boko Haram sect.

The last two attacks occurred in Nyanya area of the capital city, raising fears of insecurity prior to the commencement of the forum.

Britain, US and France have said they would support Nigeria’s search for the missing girls. China had pledged to provide support to Nigeria through its satellite technology.

More Attention To Education, Agriculture Will Accelerate Africa’s Growth

Accelerating Africa TransformationParticipants at the ongoing World Economic Forum on Africa, holding in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, have stressed the need to accelerate Africa’s Transformation through proper education of its citizens and full exploitation of the Agriculture potentials of the continent.

In a plenary on Friday with the theme “Accelerating Africa’s Transformation”, some African leaders discussed how to move the continent forward and how the continent can actualise the 2063 development agenda set by the African Union (AU) in line with the Millennium development Goals (MDGs) developed in the year 2000.

In 2013, the African Union decided that the continent should be targeting the next 50 years as an era of human development. The Agenda 2063 will be achieved through a more enhanced economic agenda that is built around the MDGs, the union had said.

That was the focus of the discussion at the forum.

Cross Cutting Issue

For the last decade Africa has been on a steady growth trajectory and there is need for an all-inclusive growth, a reason for the theme of the 24th session of the World Economic Forum on Africa held in Nigeria, “Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs”.

Africa is focusing on job creation, creating and setting the right infrastructure to enhance economic development and exploring agriculture.

The need to empower individual Africans to enable them meet the growth target was also emphasised at the session that had the President of Senegal, Macky Sali, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Prime Minister of Cote D’Ivoire, Mr Daniel Kablan Duncan and Chief Executive Officer of Unilever, United Kingdom, Paul Polman amongst others as the discussants.

President Sali stressed the impact that education could have on the actualisation of the goals set by the AU, explaining that in Senegal, the government had invested a lot in education which he said was “a cross cutting issue”. He pointed out that investment in education could only yield fruits on a long term.

“Efforts have been made in the last 10 years so that universal access to education should be a reality in Senegal.Macky Sali

“You have the education rate at a level that is more than 95 per cent.

“We have a reality issue in African Muslim countries where Islamic education is not taken into account in reality.

“Our goal could be attained by 2015 if we maintain the momentum with regards to access. We also changed our approach by combining the issue of quality education, with the establishment of a new programme which is a package of access with equity education,” he said.

Give Them Work

President Sali also said that the government was also looking at professional training, having vocational training and professionalising education.

The Prime Minister of Cote D’Ivoire stressed the need for security in the sub regions, in order for growths recorded to be sustained.

Daniel Kablan DuncanIn Africa in general, several countries are experiencing crisis. From South Sudan to Central Africa Republic and then to Nigeria in the West African region, currently battling to contain a terrorist group terrorising the north eastern part.

“We are not only speaking about fight within countries but also against terrorists. As far as Cote d’Ivoire is concerned, we have come out of this since 2011 and we have put in place a National Security Council and we have a very good result on that. The index came down, moving from 4 to 1.2,” Mr Duncan said.

He also pointed out the importance of education, citing the case of Asian countries and South America. “What helped them to be at the level they are now is education.

“In the 70s we were quite at the same level with these countries but now they have made huge progress because of education that their people embraced,” he said, further emphasising that “a reliable way of reducing poverty is not to distribute subsidies to the people.

“It is to give them work,” Mr Duncan stressed, identifying agriculture as an important means of providing the jobs.

Fundamentals For Business

For Mr Polman, the Agenda 2063 should be reviewed downwards to 2030, as the growth rate currently seen in Africa showed that the continent could eradicate poverty within the next 15 years.

“Fifteen out of 20 countries that have made the biggest progress towards the MDGs are in Africa. The fast growing countries in the world are in Africa. 1,100 people showed up at the world economic forum, one of the highest numbers that has been recorded.Paul Polman

“It is not 2063 but 2030. In the next 15 years we can eradicate poverty. The most important thing is to do it in the most equitable way. In Africa itself, still 60 million people living in poverty is not going to last. When you have 40 million of your youth unemployed and you need to create two million jobs a year it is not going to last,” he said.

He pointed out that if the fundamentals – good governance, institutions functioning, peace and the rule of law – are in place Africa had enormous opportunities with fundamentals for business.

He stressed the need to educate young Africans especially the education of women in order to achieve an all-inclusive growth.

He urged African leaders to step up and face the responsibility of running Africa.

Growth Inequality

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said that Africa was failing in the area of maternal mortality, stressing that saving lives is vital.

“There is no reason a woman should die in child birth today.

“As we move to the post 2015 we must continue the work that had not been accomplished under the earlier MDGs and complete it, along with infant mortality,” she said, emphasising the need for African leaders to work hard to achieve the goals as soon as possible.

She said that Africa was experiencing inequality in the growth that some countries in the continent were recording. Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala-#WEFAfrica2

“Inequality has been increasing in Nigeria despite growths recorded. The quality of growth we are delivering has to be improved. We must look at sectors that will include many more people,” the Minister of Finance said, also citing Agriculture as being three times more effective in lifting people out of poverty than any other sector.

“Trying to do what we are doing here in Nigeria where we have turned to make agriculture attractive to young people making it a business,” she said.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala also pointed out that that there was productivity gap, in spite of the growth that Nigeria was recoding.

“There is infrastructure gap, skills gap, we are not creating jobs and we are not producing young people with the right skills,” she added.

The discussants also deliberated on the issue of insecurity with focus on Nigeria, currently experiencing insurgency in the north east.

Some 200 girls were abducted on April 14 by members of the Boko Haram in a school in Chibok, a town in Borno State.

The abduction has been condemned by world leaders, as it could discourage young Nigerians in the region from going to school thereby scuttling efforts made in the education of girls in northern Nigeria.

African Leaders Asked To Boost Trade And Share Knowledge

WEFA-2014African leaders have been urged to boost trade and learn to share knowledge and infrastructure in order to develop the continent to a desired standard.

Discussing how African countries can partner with other countries around the world and the private sector to create jobs, discussants stressed the need for African countries  to explore all sectors in order to open their economy more and create needed jobs for the youth.

At Thursday’s session on “Partnering for Prosperity” US Trade Representative, Michael Froman, stressed the need for African countries to explore the agriculture sector, which he said was capable of opening the economy of many African countries, since Africa has at least 20 per cent of the world’s land.

He also stressed the need to implement the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement reached in December on trade facilitation, which is aimed at reducing bills at the border and harmonising customs, making it easier for countries to trade with each other.

He also emphasised the need for security in the continent.

Lack Of Political Will

The Deputy, Director-General, WTO, Geneva, Yonov Fredrick Agah,  stressed the need for African governments to take advantage of free trade rules and enhance trades within and outside Africa.

He suggested that profits made from trades could be channelled to other sectors of the economy in order to develop other sectors.

“Trade rules are not bad. It enables you to work for your own economy and for the economy of the trading partner.

“Trade is part of the solution to Africa’s development. A trade led growth strategy is compatible with other strategies that would grow the economy. From trade, you direct resources into manufacturing to create more jobs and reduce poverty level.

“With the increasing importance of free trade agreements, Africa should begin to think of how it will take advantage of the free trade in order to reduce the number of the unemployed in the continent,” Mr Agha said.

He also insisted that lack of political will on the part of the leaders was affecting growth.WEF-Africa-2014-Partnering-for-prosperity

Conducive Investment Environment

For Mr Jabu Mabuza, chairman, Telkom Groups, South Africa, educating Africans would go a long way in bringing the needed development in the continent.

He also stressed the need for Local domestic investments to be encouraged in order for foreign investments to come in.

“We need to recognise that we are at various stages and we need to sort out our own regional issues first,” he said.

Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, told the discussants that the challenge Africa had at the moment was not the political will to move the continent forward, stating that African leaders were doing all they could to ensure that the investment environment was conducive for investors.

He said that Nigeria was open for investment, with adequate consideration given to the private sector’s interest in order to ensure that the purpose of opening the economy, which is to create jobs, would be achieved.

“There is the political will in Africa now for us to properly integrate. And that is why a committee has been established in the African Union level to look at how Africa can facilitate intra-Africa trade, having discovered that it is easier for countries in Africa to trade within the continent,” he said.

President Jonathan also stressed the need for African countries to also consider growing the manufacturing sector.

The discussants also pointed out that African governments should reduce bureaucratic process, which President Jonathan said “an abuse of the process was a challenge that should be tackled”.

The discussion was the last for the Thursday’s session of the WEFA that started on Wednesday.

The forum with participants from over 80 countries will end on Friday.

WEF Africa: Dangote To Get 50,000 Hectares In Niger State

Babangida Aliyu @ WEFANiger State governor, Babangida Aliyu, on Thursday expressed the State’s readiness to give the Dangote Group, headed by Aliko Dangote, 50,000 hectares of land to use for agricultural purposes to boost the State’s economy.

He told Channels Television at the on-going World Economic Forum on Africa, holding in Abuja, that Niger has the largest land mass in Nigeria and was prepared for investors to come in.

He further commended the investors for taking the risk of choosing Niger State because “agriculture is not one of these investments that bring money quickly”.

“In fact, Dangote is asking for about 50,000 hectares which we have found and we are ready. We have prepared every local government,” he said.

He also disclosed that the State was willing to give land to other investors interested in housing projects and agriculture. “If it is for housing, in fact under 48 hours, you can get your certificate if you apply… for agriculture, at least within two weeks.”

WEFA Participants  Asked To Proffer Solutions To Africa’s Development Issues

Goodluck Jonathan-WEFA-2014Participants at the ongoing World Economic Forum on Africa holding in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, have been asked to “think big” and proffer solutions to the development issues facing the continent.

At the opening session of the forum on Thursday, the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, told the participants that Africa needed all information and assistance it could get from the forum in solving its unemployment and infrastructure development challenges.

President Jonathan pointed out that the theme of the form, “Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs,” could not have been more apt than the time it is coming, as Africa’s unemployment rate is on the increase.

“In 2013 over 200 million people were unemployed around the world. It includes about 75 million young people between 18 and 24 years.

“Africa’s youthful population is on the increase and it is compounding unemployment issues in Africa. The median age of people you meet in the street in Africa is about 20 years.

“Nigeria for instance has about 24 per cent unemployment rate,” Jonathan said.

He stressed that the need to solve Africa’s unemployment issue had become imperative, with reports that 122 million workers would enter Africa’s labour force by 2020, a development that could compound the issue if the current situation is not tackled.

“By 2035, the combined size of Africa’s labour force will be greater than that of most of the heavily populated countries in the world including China. This is a major challenge to all of us. Job creation thoughts will occupy a greater part of every African leaders time. It is one of the concerns that keep me up at night,” President Jonathan said.

Challenges In The Years Ahead

The Nigerian President also pointed out that the continent needed investors in other different sectors of the economy, listing different strategies that the Nigerian government had adopted in tackling the challenges of power, unemployment and infrastructure development.

“We have structured our budget in a way that it will create jobs for people. We are putting in place the necessary conditions to support private sector growth. We are making efforts to ensure stable Macro-economic environment – low inflation and stable exchange rates -, investment in critical infrastructure, railway, power, aviation sectors and we are also investing in the development of skills for our young people,” the Nigerian President told the forum that opened on Wednesday.

Few weeks ago, Nigeria rebased its economy, which had shown seven per cent per annum growth over the last few years. The rebasing made Nigeria the lagest economy in Africa.

But the robust economy has not translated into job creation, a situation that President Jonathan said needed to be improved.

These strategies put in place by the government are still not enough, as the number of unemployed youths in Nigeria is still huge.

Some job seekers had died in March as a result of stampede caused by the large number of job seekers that besieged venues of a recruitment exercises of the immigration service. Nigeria says it is looking to solve the problem.

President Jonathan also listed some of the other challenges that participants at the forum were expected to discuss to include educational facilities, housing, health and security.

He said that the Nigerian government had put strategies in place in the Agriculture sector to unlock it for job creation.

“Our recent GDP rebasing exercise has repositioned the economy and by supporting the development of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises we are growing few jobs.

“We have launched our National Industrial Development Plan that also aims at empower small businesses that will, in the long run, create jobs. We have business plan competition for young people tagged YouWin (Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria),” he said.

Youwin is an innovative business plan competition aimed at job creation by encouraging and supporting aspiring entrepreneurial youth in Nigeria to develop and execute business ideas.

On the need for job creation in Africa, President Jonathan said: “Africa faces difficult challenges in the years ahead and we need to provide adequate infrastructure to create jobs for the young population in a manner that will provide unique dividend for them.

“There is the need for Africans to ensure that the growth that the continent is witnessing that is attracting investments in different sectors is inclusive and capable of creating more jobs”.

He emphasised the need for the creation of opportunities for people to take care of themselves, a strategy that had been identified as capable of ending insecurity in Nigeria and some other parts of Africa.

China Proposes China-Africa Regional Aviation Plan

Li-Keqiang-WEFA-2014The Chinese government is proposing a China-Africa regional aviation plan aimed at fostering development in Africa while creating jobs for Africa’s unemployed youths.

It will also champion investments in other transportation means in the transport sector, connecting capital cities in Africa for easy movement of goods and people within the continent.

At thursday’s session of the ongoing World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) holding in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, the Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Li Keqiang, said that the Chinese government would continue to promote development in Africa, as the continents rise as a new world power will make the world more democratic, stable, robust, diverse, colourful and more conducive to global peace development and progress.

Mr Keqiang said the Chinese government, in cooperation with African countries, would through an aviation joint venture, provide civilian feeder jets, train aviation professionals and build supporting facilities needed for the sector to thrive.

“Africa has seen its aviation express demands growing rapidly but it lacks airport, air routes, especially regional operating capacity.

“China has huge experience and capacity in the construction and management of airports.

“We will promote the regional aviation industry in Africa. China will provide financing technical and human resourced support,” he told participants at the 24th session of the WEFA.

China is also looking to expound investments in Africa in the rail, power, telecommunication sectors and human capacity development. it will also assist in the agriculture sector to improve food security in the continent.

Foundation For Economic Take-off

Its six projects will focus on industrial cooperation, financial cooperation, poverty reduction, environmental cooperation, people to people exchanges and a cooperation of peace and security.

Through a forum on China-Africa cooperation, China wants to meet Africa’s new aspirations, build and upgrade China-Africa cooperation and elevate strategic partnership to new heights.

Mr Keqiang pointed out that transportation is an important foundation for economic take-off in developing countries, emphasising why China will be cooperating with Africa in the sector.

“We will promote connectivity in the continent through China-Africa transnational infrastructure cooperation.

“We will establish a High-speed rail network in Africa connecting all African capitals,” he said.

Africa accounts for about 23 per cent of the world land masses but with only 7 per cent of the total rail way mileage with 20 countries having no rail ways at all.

The rail network system will involve the setting up of centres for high-speed rail system in Africa within the sub regions first.

“Africa’s express way network is a great potential for development.

“We will cooperate with Africa to make the express way network possible. We will like to strengthen cooperation with Africa and promote the actualisation of these networks,” the Chinese premier said.

China is also going to increase investment and financing in Africa, with an addition of 10 billion dollars to the connected Chinese credit line to African countries to reach a total of 30 billion dollars.

Another two billion dollars will be added to the China-Africa Development Fund to push it up to a total of five billion dollars.

Mr Keqiang also said that China would provide 18,000 government scholarships to Africa and would train 30,000 professionals of various types.

“The Chinese cooperation with African counties is sincere and open. We will share our advance, applicable and managerial expertise developed by China. We will share with Africa without reservation.

“China will strengthen cooperation with international organisations and relevant bodies and will under the principle of African consent, Africa needs and African participation, explore trilateral or multilateral cooperation in Africa.

“We will relocate some Chinese countries to Africa. The Chinese government means what it says,” he stressed.

The investment plan for Africa that China reeled out at the forum is apt considering the fact that Africa’s unemployment rate is on the increase.

The African continent is important birth place of the world civilisation and it has seen fascinating and tremendous changes in the last few decades.

Its economy has shown great vitality and dynamism, shoring up in a period that other world economies were experiencing crisis.

Its 54 countries want to speak with one voice and it is gradually registering its relevance on the world political stage.

Africa’s economic aggregate has exceeded 2 trillion dollars in 2013.

Seven out of the 10 fastest growing countries are in Africa, making the continent an investment destination.

Nigeria, playing host to participants from over 80 countries at the forum that began on Wednesday, is Africa’s largest economy but lacks some basic infrastructure, with a huge number of unemployed youth.

The theme for the forum that will end on Friday is “Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs”.

WEFA: Group Sets Up $10m Fund For Security In North East Schools

Gordon BrownA group of Nigerian businessmen, the UN special envoy for education and former British Prime Minister, Mr Gordon Brown at the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) holding in Abuja, on Wednesday held a meeting to find solution to the growing attacks and kidnap of young girls in Nigeria, announcing a $10 million dollars funds for schools in the north eastern part of Nigeria.

After a closed door meeting, the group announced the establishment of the fund as an initial intervention measure for 500 schools in the north east to build community, strengthen security and promote schools as safe places.

The initiative is coming just as the global community turns full swing on the recent kidnapping of over 200 school girls in the north east, with far reaching responses to terrorist acts around the world.

Safe Schools Initiative

At the forum, the group encouraged the government to invest in education and promote schools as safe places.

The initiative was in line with Safe Schools Initiative that was launched as part of the World Economic Forum on Africa.

Explaining the conditions for schools that will benefit from the fund, Mr Brown said: “We want parents and teachers to look into what safety measures they need for the schools and we want the government to work with the international business community. I believe obviously that the schools that are in need of this are in the north of the country.

“And there are 5000 schools in these areas. We want to stand beside the people of Nigeria to ensure that action is being taken”.

According to the business leaders, this initiative amongst others is the only way education in the northeast can continue.

A participant at the WEFA, Saadia Zahidi, pointed out that there are 10 million children were not in school out of the 30 million children that should be in school today.

“So there is a long term issues that need to be dealt with in addition to the short term measures that need to be put in place in existing schools.

“In addition, there is a gender gap issue. Nigeria ranks 106 out of 136 countries that we cover on gender gaps and one of the worst areas is on education attainment,” she said.

The Chief Executive Officer of Thisday Newspaper, Nduka Obaigbena, stressed that while the Nigerian government are committed to bringing back the girls abducted by members of the Boko Haram sect from a school in Chibok, Borno State, said that the fear of going to school had become the greatest danger.

“If we do not take time we could lose a generation of students who are afraid of their safety in schools,” he said.

Participants at the meeting also stressed the need for the government to ensure that schools were safe and well secured to ensure that students do not nurse fears of being abducted.

Nigeria Receives Britain’s Assurance Of Support In Rescue Of Girls

Cameron-JonathanThe Nigerian government on Wednesday received a commitment from the British government to deploy its intelligence gathering resources in support of Nigeria’s security agencies currently engaged in the search and rescue of the over 200 girls abducted from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State.

A statement by the spokesman for President Jonathan, Reuben Abati, said that President Goodluck Jonathan, in a telephone conversation with the British Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, asked and received a promise of the deployment of British satellite imaging capabilities and other advanced tracking technologies in support of the ongoing effort.

President Jonathan thanked Mr Cameron, the British government and people for their concern over the fate of the abducted girls and their willingness to provide concrete assistance to save the girls from the terrorists who seized them from their school on April 14.

“Pure Evil”

He told the Prime Minister that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would liaise with the British government through its high commission in Nigeria to work out practical details of the promised support and collaboration against terrorism.

Mr Cameron had earlier told the British parliament that he would speak with the Nigerian president to discuss how Britain can assist Nigeria in rescuing the girls abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok.

He had described the abduction of girls as spoils of terrorism as “pure evil” and stressed the need for world nations to come together in the fight against terrorism.

The peoples’ republic of china has also offered to assist in the effort to rescue the abducted girls.

In talks with President Jonathan earlier on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Premier Li Keqiang promised that his country would make any useful information acquired by its satellites and intelligence services available to Nigeria’s security agencies.

Mr Keqiang assured the President that china would support Nigeria’s fight against terrorism in every possible way, including the training of military personnel for anti-insurgency operations.

The abduction of the girl had triggered protests and drew condemnation from celebrities, groups and governments around the world, with a “Bring Back Our Girl” demand from the Nigerian government and other world leaders.

President Barack Obama had also condemned the abduction,describing it as a terrible and heart breaking situation and sought global action against the Boko Haram sect.

The US government had also sent in Military experts to help rescue the girls abducted by members of the sect.

“Boko Haram, the terrorist organisation, has been operating in Nigeria, killing people and innocent civilians for a very long time,” Obama said.

The group had been terrorising villages in the north east and had of recent carried out two bomb attacks in Nyanya area of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, raising security concerns ahead of the ongoing World Economic Forum on Africa holding in Abuja.

Participants from over 80 countries are attending the event that is offering Nigeria an opportunity to woo more investors into Africa’s largest economy.