Nigeria’s VP Leads Delegation To World Economic Forum on Africa

osinbajo at World Economic Forum on AfricaThe Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, is leading a delegation of government officials to the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA), holding in Capa Town, South Africa.

Focus at the forum will be on infrastructure development, financing for the region, economic growth, entrepreneurship, safeguarding Africa’s democratic dividend, Africa’s mobile technology, data revolution and designing of smarter cities among others, a programme on the WEFA website showed.

The forum will also discuss how best to tackle the issues facing the continent.

Professor Osinbajo is expected to give a talk on issues related to youth employment and job creation.

The three-day forum will have in attendance about 1,250 persons made up of leaders, government officials, notable public and private sector players, people from the academia and civil society groups.

Another big issue that the forum would give maximum attention is terrorism.

Conversation will start on Wednesday, June 3 and the forum would try to come up with practical ways of combating the different challenges facing the continent.

Agriculture is another sector that most African countries have not fully explored and it will form part of the talks at various meetings.

The immediate past Minister of Finance in Nigeria, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Mr. Uche Orji of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority are also attending the forum.

It is hoped that at the end of the three-day meeting, some realistic ideas and practical solutions to Africa’s numerous challenges would be evolved.

Africa has become a hotbed for investment, as it has continued to record good growth potential despite the challenges facing some of its economies.

Business Incorporated: International Community Confident Of Nigeria’s Economic Progress

Business incorporatedGlobal leaders at the World Economic Forum on Africa, held in Nigeria recently brought to the table ways by which they can improve the well-being of Africans through the provision of security, quality education, health care delivery and the enabling environment for businesses to thrive on the continent.

President Goodluck Jonathan said the war on terror is on in the country and that the federal government will ensure to bring back the school girls abducted by Boko Haram in Chibok, Borno State.

Also Chinese premier, Li Keqiang stated that China plans to invest billions of US dollars in Africa. And that will be without any political interference.

Several panel discussions were held during the World Economic Forum on Africa and they centred on investing in Africa, empowering young people, and promoting economic growth on the continent.

On this edition of Business Incorporated the M.D/C.E.O NLNG, Babs Omotowa aired his views on these developments, noting that it was evidence of the confidence the international community had in the country’s economy.

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.

Jonathan To Lift 200 Million Nigerians Out of Poverty Through Industrial Revolution

Gombe-MarketPresident Goodluck Jonathan has identified industrial revolution as one of the ways through which he can lift Nigerians out of poverty.

President Jonathan made this disclosure while inaugurating the Presidential Advisory Committee on Industrial Revolution Plan in the Presidential Villa

He said  with proper planning, industrial revolution will lift 200 million Nigerians out of poverty the same way China lifted over 500 million of its citizens out of poverty.

The president commended the organized private sector for a successful outing on the World Economic Forum on Africa adding that no country has become prosperous only by extracting and exporting its raw materials.

He said to accomplish this; Nigeria must do things differently, insisting that Nigeria must begin to add value to its resources through research development.

President Jonathan also warned that Nigeria must industrialise advising that the Nigerian Industrialisation Revolution Plan is the agenda to achieve this.

He said that the committee must serve as a platform to get the inputs of the best industrialists in the country, because the existing investors in Nigeria are best placed to articulate the expansion of strategic industrial sectors.

The Federal Government is confident that this plan will quicken the industrialisation of Nigeria and create many more jobs and wealth for its citizens.

 

Government Asked To Make Strategic Arrangement For Coming Investments

Pascal-OdigboThe Nigerian government has been asked to make strategic arrangements to ensure that investments that will come into Nigeria, canvassed for at the World Economic Forum on Africa, will translate into inclusive growth.

Reviewing issues discussed the forum that ended on May 9, an economist, Pascal Odigbo, on Monday, said that “if the government and other players in Nigeria’s economy fail to make proper arrangement, the nation will continue to have a GDP that is running away at 8 or 9 per cent with the man on the street lacking needed energy to power his machine to vulcanise a car tire”.

“The government and private sector must come together. There must be a platform of direct engagement to look at all the opportunities. The agencies of government must work with the people to see that there are credible platforms of better engagement with the foreign investors,” he said, expressing optimism that more investments will come into Nigeria.

Mr Odibo pointed out that since Nigeria was included in the MINT, seen as the next world powers, investors’ interest in the country had increased, describing the increase as a fulfilment of prophecy.

Tackling Terror Attacks

“Holding the forum in Nigeria was a major step and an investment well done but the government and the private sector need to leverage on the forum to make sure that the full benefit of the gathering does not dissipate after the forum,” he said expressing fears that Nigeria has a system that  is very disjointed.

“The economic forum will apply its own pressure on the government to put things in place.

“Investors are coming and it will put pressure on both the mangers and the practitioners of the Nigerian economy – the private sector- for them to organise themselves in such a way that they could take full advantage because people are beginning to put their money where their mouth is,” Mr Odibo stressed.

During the forum, the Premier for the People’s Republic of China, Li Keqiang said China would be increasing its credit line to Africa from 20 billion dollars to 30 billion dollars, listing Power, Telecommunication, aviation, training professionals and meeting the pressing needs of Africa as the major challenges that the Chinese government would be looking to solve.

Currently in Nigeria, China is building four airports in Kano, Abuja Port Harcourt and Enugu.

Mr Odibo also expressed belief that Africa had a community of trained professionals, both young and old, that could take on anything given the right opportunity.

He stressed that the era where people think that it was an honour for them to lead had passed, as Nigerians would be asking questions which the leaders are expected to provide answers to.

“We are going to look into their eyes and ask them questions and if you cannot provide answer to the questions you will just leave honourably.”

On the possibility of the insecurity situation in some northern states discouraging investors from coming to Nigeria, Mr Odibo said that there is the need for security agencies in Nigeria to up their games, describing the security situation in Abuja during the forum as artificial.

“What is in shutting down a place because you wanted to provide security?.”

He pointed out that terrorism was not a local thing, stressing the need for international community to be involved in tackling the terror attacks by the Boko Haram sect in the north east.

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, had called on world leaders to see the need to join in the fight against the terrorists’ activities which he described as “pure evil” and promising to provide support to the Nigerian government.

“The world will be foolish to leave Nigeria alone because they have investments here and they intend to bring more. The Americans are engaging in Northern leaders in discussions, finding ways of solving the insecurity issues in the north.

“Northern governors should be able to see the need to deal with the insecurity too, as the root of the problem in the north is due to negligence by the leaders to educate the people,” he said.

Agribusiness Campaign

The economist also urged the Nigerian government to step up agribusiness campaign in order to get more youths involved in agriculture.

“Whatever you produce and sell at its raw form, you are just shot changing yourself and that is why it is important to key into what the Minister of Agriculture said about the need to move agriculture from just being an interventionist issue to a business, where people will be able to know that they could become rich doing agriculture.

“People that retire from work, after putting in all their efforts in their jobs; they become farmers at old age. It is not going to work that way.

“The idea should be to involve younger people in agriculture.

“Get the youth to embrace agriculture as agribusiness. Teach them the value chain. You must convert cassava to sweetener, convert cocoa seed to chocolate. It is in this value chain that it becomes profitable. ” he said.

Distribution Is A Major Problem In The Movie Industry — Ramsey Noah

ramsey noahNollywood actor, Ramsey Noah, has said one of the major challenges in the movie industry in Nigeria is distribution.

He said that there is no distribution structure in the system which is preventing the circulation of the movies.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Saturday Sunrise, Ramsey Noah called on the Federal Government to increase the tax on DVDs to reduce the rate of piracy.

He revealed that he grow up in Lagos but has a mixture of Jewish and Lebanese blood.

Ramsey has appeared in several movies and soap operas including a popular TV soap, Fortunes.

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.

Capital Market Focus Is On Wealth Creation – Oteh

oteh2The Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Arunma Oteh has said one of the roles of the capital market is to create wealth and allocate resources to the most competitive companies.

She says the stock market helps in addressing some of the income inequalities that Nigeria faces today, helps in creating jobs for the unemployed and facilitates an eco-system, starting from venture capital and private equity that can easily exist through the stock market.

On Channels Television’s business programme, Business Morning, Ms Oteh stated that inline with the theme of the World Economic Forum On Africa, “Forging Inclusive Growth and Creating Jobs”,  Nigerians could contribute to wealth creation and inclusive growth through investments in the Nigerian Capital Market.

Ms Oteh noted that financial responsible citizens were very critical to the Transformation Agenda that President Goodluck Jonathan was leading, explaining that “if we know how to spend, save and invest, we can plan for our retirement or for future health challenges” adding that the SEC was doing its best to ensure that the average Nigerian is very familiar with the workings of the capital market.

She further noted that the SEC had come up with a number of Financial Literacy Programmes, like partnering with Nollywood and the creation of mutual funds.

“The SEC has been emphasising the need for Nigerians to look at investing through mutual funds as an alternative to investing directly. It helps in diversifying your risk rather than investing your funds in one company,” she said.

She also urged Nigerians to get involved in the Financial Literacy Programme of the government.

 

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.

Building Digital Infrastructure Is First Step To Technology Growth – ICT Minister

ict ministerThe Minister of ICT, Omobola Johnson, has said that building digital infrastructure and improving internet accessibility are first steps that should be taken in making Nigeria vast in technology.

She said that for Africa and Nigeria to be connected, there has to be a robust, cost effective and reliable ICT infrastructure.

She also noted the need for ICT infrastructure to be used as economic benefit, thereby creating digital awareness for people, to know how to use the internet in terms of education, business and entertainment.

Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, live from Abuja, Sunrise Daily, the Minister explained that in the last 6 months, the Universal Service Provisions Fund (USP), mapped the whole country to see the rural areas that lack ICT infrastructures which is one of the main focus for the ICT ministry. She added that although some of the areas may not be commercially viable for telecom operators, they are economically active, as they could create more productivity.

“There are people there that are running businesses and generating income, we can increase their productivity by moving in there with the help of USP subsidy to encourage network operators to go to those areas”.

The Minister further explained that most SMEs could not afford the use of ICT infrastructure because it was expensive for businesses trying to grow. “With the help of Cloud technologies which is a software application, SMEs will be able to use technology,” she said.

“Statistics show that SMEs that use technology grow 50% faster than SMEs that don’t use technology”.

The Minister also explained that there was a grate difference between quality of service and infrastructure, stating that the delivery of service in Nigeria can be better. She mentioned that infrastructures especially at the ongoing World Economic Forum On Africa had improved with high standard through the co-operation of the Federal Capital Development Authority.

She also pointed out that  some states, Anambra, Ondo, Bayelsa and Katsina were working with the ICT Ministry to improve the quality of internet service and develop the infrastructure in their states.