On Thursday last week, the Nigeria International Economic Partnership Forum was held in Manhattan, New York in the middle of the most important international event of the year: the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The Forum was enormously popular, attracting some 500 guests and delegates – almost double the expected number. While this resulted in a somewhat chaotic atmosphere at times, the Forum was a resounding success: a clear indication of investor confidence in Nigeria.
Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa and seeks to raise its GDP to USD 965 billion-almost a trillion Dollars by 2027.
Under President Muhammadu Buhari, the nation has recorded marked progress in highway construction, bridges, railway, power, electrification, and capacity addition in airports and their modernization.
As the President spoke, determining his government to open more and more sectors of the economy to the private sector, a particular participant stunned, not a few when he announced that he manages pension funds of USD 1.3 Trillion, money well above Nigeria’s current GDP, five times over.
First, well over a billion dollars worth of deals benefitting Nigeria and her partners were signed at the Forum, including a $1.3 billion investment from Sun Africa for a new solar energy project; $70 million ring-fenced by Adryana and Noblesse Green Energy for a new biodiversity project; strategic financing support for a new refinery on the Niger Delta announced by Honeywell UOP and a major philanthropic investment in data for Nigerian schools announced by Airtel Africa that would be setting up internet connection for 100 schools each year for five years running.
A highlight of the event was the Presidential Luncheon, which saw Guest of Honour President Buhari joined by CEOs and Senior Executives from some of the largest and most prominent American and African companies, including GE, Chevron, Honeywell, Bell Flight, Sun Africa, McGraw Hill, American Tower and many more.
The full guest list of participants included the American Tower Corporation, Aveva, Big Sun Holdings, Citi, CrossBoundry Group, Cure Violence Global, Entrust, Educational Testing Service, ExxonMobil, GE Healthcare, Gilead Sciences, and Hello Tractor.
Also in attendance were Google, McLarty Associates, Medici Land Governance, NBA, Odum Capital, Oracle, Pearson, Endeavor, Roche, Seed Global Health, Standard Bank, TIAA/Nuveen, UBA America, the AfDB, African EXIM Bank, and its US equivalent, Export-Import Bank of United States, headed by Reta Jo Lewis, the first ever African American to lead the organization, and the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB).
We also in actual participation, the World Food Program, (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD), and NEPAD agency for Africa.
Of course, no one could have overlooked the overarching presence and actual participation of the Corporate Council of Africa whose current President, Florie Liser addressed the meeting, saying that the organization is pushing for a private sector roadmap to support investment in several sectors to aid economic growth in Nigeria.