All is now set after two years of preparation, for the hosting, by Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy, of one of the most important events of the 21st century, the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja.
Preparations are in top gear to receive world leaders led by Li Keqiang, prime minister of the People’s Republic of China.
No fewer than 12 heads of state and 900 delegates have registered to participate in the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Africa, beginning in Abuja on May 7.
The forum, which has “Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs” as its theme, will last three days, according to a statement from the Presidency, while participants would come from 70 countries, including 30 in Africa.
This is the first time the summit will be held in the West- African sub region, and it coincides with the country been ranked as the largest economy in Africa, as revealed in the just rebased Gross Domestic Product figures.
The new rebased data shows that the size of the Nigerian economy is now estimated at N80.3 trillion ($510 billion) for 2013, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), April 7 2014 report.
The data showed diverse sectoral economic activity, including Agriculture, which contributed N17.26 trillion, Trade, N13.35 trillion, Crude Petroleum and Natural gas, N11.55 trillion, Telecoms N6.97 trillion, Real estate N6.43 trillion, Manufacturing N5.47 trillion, Food Beverages and Tobacco N3.70 trillion, Finance and Insurance N2.64 trillion, and motion picture, sound recording and music production N1.13 trillion.
The nine sectors listed above contributed 85.4 percent of total GDP.
For Nigeria, it means there is a shift of economic power from the Southern Africa region to the Western African region.
Apart from being an unprecedented opportunity for both cultural and economic diplomacy in Africa, it shows China’s interest in the Nigerian economy.
According to the Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China in Lagos, Liu Kan, in 2013 alone, China’s non-financial direct investments in Nigeria stood at $1.79bn (about N293.5bn). The investments are mainly of those companies involved in free zone, petroleum, iron and steel, manufacturing and agriculture.
Towards the end of the first quarter of 2014, some Chinese investors who were on tour, said the country has indicated its readiness to invest about $300 billion to boost Nigeria’s economy. This is to help the federal government to actualise its target of offering 150,000 Nigerians gainful employment.
For a country like Nigeria, with copious infrastructural bottlenecks inhibiting its growth potentials, the summit presents an opportunity to bridge these gaps and actualise its goal of becoming one of the top 20 economies in the world by2020.