On the sidelines of the 77th session of United Nations General Assembly, UNGA in New York, USA, the African Business Round Table and the Nigerian Government put together the 2nd Nigeria International Economic Partnership Forum to give unparalleled opportunity to engage the G7 and G20 countries, the184 members of the United Nations, the International Development partners and the Business community to look at the potentials of Nigeria as a country full of abundant openings for prosperity and economic growth.
Undoubtedly, the Forum held at St. Regis Hotel in New York, attracted more than 200 investors,⁹ offered prospects of increasing access to trade, investment, finance, health, education and agriculture in Nigeria particularly in the context of a global economy emerging out of CovId 19 pandemic and coming to terms with the impact of the lingering Russia-Ukraine war.
In addition to highlighting initiatives, programmes and projects of the Nigerian government, the Forum opened the doors for networking and building relationships with top level executives of international investment bodies, leading companies and multilateral finance institutions in the world and sufficiently showcased Nigerian companies to the world.
In his address at the forum, President Muhammadu Buhari did say that his ‘administration had focused strongly on developing Nigeria’s manufacturing sector, and given the country’s enormous natural resources, technological partnership are needed to transform these natural endowments into high value goods’.
He noted that since signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA, “Nigeria has strengthened its position as a gateway to an integrated continental market consisting of 1.3 billion consumers with an aggregate GDP of $3.4 trillion”.
In the words of PMB who spoke at a meeting with the Business Council for International Understanding, BCIU, ‘since 2015, the focus has been on economic diversification and successfully today, the economy is on a path of sustainable and inclusive growth through an open, rules-based and market-oriented way of doing business’.
It is very clear that the plenary sessions resulted into landmark decisions taken to improve the fortunes of the country and her citizens. Such thematic areas discussed include Nigeria’s economic outlook, scaling up international partnership for Nigeria, growing Nigeria’s agriculture and food security, Nigeria’s oil and gas sector reform and compelling investment opportunities in Nigeria.
Others were infrastructural opportunities in the country, making finance work for Nigeria through financing education and health care and last but not the least, next steps in the transformation of Nigeria’s Digital Economy.
As part of the success story of the forum, a number of deals were signed by investors and the Nigerian government officials to further support fast tracking development in the country.
Airtel CEO, Segun Ogunsanya disclosed a philanthropic investment in data for 100 Secondary Schools annually in the country at more than $57m.
Similarly, the CEO of Adryada offered a ‘ring-fenced’ for bio-diversity projects in Nigeria with another partner, Noblesse Green energy at $70m and another investor, Sun Africa which offered $1.3bn for the and development of the country’s Solar energy sector.
Honeywell UOP also committed itself to supporting NNPC Limited on its strategic partnership to finance the country’s refineries project in the Niger Delta. All the agreements were dully signed by the Investors on one side and the Nigerian government officials including Ministers and Heads of government Agencies and Departments on the other.
Though it is not in doubt that a lot has been achieved going forward considering the deals government has secured in some sectors of the economy this time around, one strongly believes that a lot more can be achieved should successive governments continue to sustain such noble ‘life saving’ initiatives the PMB administration has continuously initiated and sustained.
Indeed God has blessed this country abundantly with countless human and natural endowments that can be out to good use to make life more meaningful.
No one doubts the fact that Nigeria is a country full of natural endowments that have capacity to trigger wealth for the country and her citizens. We must not allow these windiw of openings to slip off our hands.
What remains to be done is unrelenting commitment by leaders and the citizens including technocrats in government to re strateguse and build on the sttucture laid by the PMB administration.
Future governments have an obligation to pursue the agenda without let or hindrance
EMEKA ANYAOKU STREET,ABUJA email@example.com