One week after the Nigerian capital city of Abuja hosted the much- talked about World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA), a University teacher, Prof. Olu Okotoni, wants African leaders to make the investment environment more conducive in order for the gains from the Forum to be sustainable.
“I think that some of the promises made by foreign investors and development partners will only come to fruition in a peaceful setting,” Okotoni, a Professor of Public Administration, told PANA in an exclusive interview.
The senior lecturer at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, South West Nigeria, spoke against the backdrop of the recently-held Forum in Nigeria during which foreign and local investors made several pledges to invest in the critical sector of African economy.
Organisers of the three-day event (from 7-9 May, 2014) said that WEFA attracted new investments worth over US$ 68 billion into the continent.
The funds are in form of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), including from private and public investors across Africa and the world.
Most of the funds are to be channelled into the agriculture sector, capacity building, social infrastructure such as roads, railways, hospitals, education and Information Communication Technology (ICT).
Obviously, the greatest gains from the Forum came from the Chinese government which planned to invest US$42 billion in Africa.
A breakdown of this shows that US$10 billion of the money is for investment financing, US$30 billion in extending credit lines and US$2 billion into China-Africa investment fund.
The University teacher described the investor’s renewed interest on the continent as laudable and an indication of the growing importance of Africa in global economy.
He was, however, quick to add that “Investment has to do with the environment, especially the security challenges. I think it is very critical, because nobody wants to invest its money or a country investing resources into a place they are not sure of the security of that society. So it is important that Africa works towards peaceful and politically-stable society”.
In addition to the Chinese investment, Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, also planned to invest about US$16 billion in Nigeria over the next four years. This is expected to create about 180,000 jobs.
Another company is investing US$1 billion across Africa in the next 10 years with 20,000 jobs to be created through the Digital Africa initiative.
In the power sector, about US$ 2 billion have been pledged by donor agencies to improve electricity supply across Africa.
The fight against terrorism in Nigeria and Africa equally received a major boost. There was strong commitment demonstrated through public-private partnership, to collaborate regionally and globally in the fight against terror.
This partnership has resulted in the “Safe School Initiative”, an aftermath of the abduction on 14 April, of over 200 school girls of Government Secondary School Chibok, in North Eastern State of Borno.
The US$10 million ‘Safe School Initiative Fund’ was created by the United Nations Special Envoy, Mr. Gordon Brown, for Global Education.
The fund is to develop and enhance education in the terrorism-ravaged areas of Nigeria.
More than 1,000 delegates from 70 countries, 30 of them from Africa, including 13 Heads of State from within and outside the continent, attended the Forum, adjudged very successful despite fear of terror attacks..
These delegates are joined by high network business personalities, political leaders, investors, financial experts, civil society, policy makers and development partners.
“Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs”, was the central theme of the Forum. The theme was very instructive, giving the high level of unemployment in Africa.
It is estimated that over 200 million Africans are jobless, most of them Youths.
Despite growth recorded by many African economies in the past decade, the reality is that this has not trickled down or translated into improve living condition to majority of the people.
Experts are of the views that the various pledges by foreign investors, donor agencies, businessmen and development partners will translate to concrete terms that will create more jobs, wealth and fight poverty.