May 7 - A three-day World Economic Forum on Africa starts in Nigeria. Melanie Ralph asks if the outrage over the kidnapping of more than 200 girls in the north of the country will hamper the country's - and possibly the continent's - prospects?
It should've been a time for Nigeria to showcase the fact it's Africa's biggest economy by GDP. Instead the start of the World Economic Forum in Abuja is being over shadowed by reports of yet more kidnappings Nigeria's public are demanding the return of over 200 missing school girls kidnapped by the Islamist group, Boko haram. Near to where the conference is on, the once busy capital has almost ground to a halt, with even schools closing. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LOCAL ACCOUNTANT, MUSA MUNIR ILLIASU, SAYING: "When there is a programme or an event you put security everywhere and then stop work and you know they go about wasted and all that and "People just waste the whole three days doing nothing and so I think it's something that needs to be approached in a way that it should be a permanent approach" No doubt investors too will be wanting reassurance that security in the region will be an ongoing project. If Boko Haram isn't contained, Nigeria's economy will suffer. IHS globals' Natznet Tesfay (SOUNDBITE) (English) IHS GLOBAL, NATZNET TESFAY SAYING: The continued violence that we're seeing in the Niger Delta, most notably in the form of oil bunkering and theft, this is having an effect on Nigeria's oil output, which is having in turn an effect on the remittances to the public purse, and this in turn is affecting nigeria's status as a MINT country. But oil isn't the only thing that's bringing business leaders from around the world to attend the three day forum International investors from China, india and the UK will be eager to hear what Nigeria and the continient have to offer. IHS globals' Natznet Tesfay (SOUNDBITE) (English) IHS GLOBAL, NATZNET TESFAY SAYING: "There is we've see that the privatization of the power sector, there's been investment going into it, improvements in the power supply will also boost the manufacturing sector, the government mooted an industrial revolution plan." For now security is top of the agenda and the international response to the kidnappings is encouraging. Pledges to help have come from the UK, US and France. Without it Nigeria's economic prospects could be seriously harmed. //////