WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM 2013: PROSPECTS FOR THE NIGERIAN ECONOMY
BY IBISAKI PERRI
The annual World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, unites international political leaders, business leaders and journalists from across the globe to discuss and shape global, regional and industrial agenda with regard to economics, health and the environment.
The non-profit organization, established by the German Klaus Schwab, a business professor at the University of Geneva for over 40 years, has been committed to improving the state of the world.
This year's World Economic Forum brought together top decision-makers from Africa and other parts of the world to outline their reform plans and shed light on the political, economic and social transitions in their respective countries under the theme, "Resilient Dynamism."
At the Swiss forum, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan reiterated His administration’s commitment to bold policy and institutional reforms aimed at adding 20 million metric tonnes of food to domestic supply and creating at least 3.5 million new jobs in agriculture and allied industries by 2015.
The president met with the Eminent Persons Group to draw foreign investors to key areas of the economy like agriculture, power, trade and investment, telecommunications, amongst others. The group, which includes Microsoft Founder, Mr. Bill Gates and former Secretary-General of the United Nations Dr. Kofi Annan, would advise the President on actions to help achieve Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda as well as provide a global platform for encouraging investment in Nigeria’s growing agriculture sector.
Currently, the government is taking significant steps to transform the sector. Agriculture is now a business that can assure food security, create wealth and generate jobs. Private sector investments are also rising considerably as a result of the bold policy reform in the sector.
About 8 billion dollars in new private sector investments have been committed to agriculture recently.
The reforms have so far ended decades of corruption in the distribution of fertilizers and seeds to farmers. Electronic wallets have also been introduced to deliver subsidised inputs directly to farmers through their cell phones. This comprehensive effort aims to increase domestic food production, reduce dependence on food imports and expand value addition to locally produced commodities.
Through de-regulation, attractive financing, concentrated infrastructure investments, and competitive policies, the sector will be more productive, efficient and competitive. Specifically, the plan will add 20 million tonnes of food to domestic supply and create 3.5 million jobs by 2015.
Building on Nigeria’s tremendous natural resources and improving productivity will not only help to achieve food security for the nation, but would also enhance national security by helping to create more new jobs to take millions of unemployed youth off the streets and into productive employment.
President Jonathan also took time off to interact with Nigerians resident in Switzerland during the World Economic Forum in Davos. He stressed the need for contributions from Nigerians in the Diaspora, both in resources and expertise, to the transformation agenda.
However, these efforts can only be realised and sustained in an atmosphere of peace. As rightly observed at a session of the WEF, ‘De-Risking Africa,’ security challenges facing the country and the African continent pose a threat to foreign investment in the region. The emergence of rebel groups and border conflict in Sudan and South Sudan, the conflict in Mali, and the insurgency of the Islamist Sect Boko Haram in Nigeria could hinder the campaign for foreign investment at the just concluded WEF.
It is imperative therefore, as President Jonathan pointed out during a media interaction in Davos, for friendly nations to help contain the problems in Nigeria and other parts of Africa and make Nigeria and the African continent a safe haven for investors.
Broadcast on Tuesday 29, 2013
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