Last week the Nigerian Embassy played host to the World Diaspora Conference, which was organized by DC based Nigerians in the Diaspora Organization (NIDO Americas).
Presently, the US exports automobiles, gallons of refined petroleum, and tons of wheat. In 2011, the US government netted an 18 percent increase in revenue (or about $4.8 billion).
The event, entitled: US/Nigeria Business, Trade and Investment: Linking US Foreign Direct Investors with Nigerian Businesses/Government, brought together government officials from the US and Nigeria, investors, and business professionals from both nations with the hope of promoting attendees to forge progressive and creative ways of linking US investors directly with small and medium size businesses in Nigeria.
US State Department Director of West African Affairs, Ambassador Eunice Reddick was on hand and referred to Nigeria as a nation with much potential.
“The United States is committed to helping Nigeria build institutions, remove constraints to trade and investment through the African Growth and Opportunity Act, expand opportunities for Nigeria to effectively access its neighbor’s markets and diversify its economy beyond a narrow reliance on natural resources because the we believe Nigeria is the world’s next major economic success story,”she said.
Conference chairman and NIDO Americas Region 2 Director Franklin Ekechukwu said to Leadership Newspapers,
Speaking further, Mr. Ekechukwu said: “This world conference will create an environment in which investors will have opportunities to target the needs of each specific government and businesses from Nigeria; and tailor investment instruments to meet such needs. Nigeria’s population is large, young, energetic and mobile”
“Therefore, the country’s economy is poised for a huge and spectacular growth now. Thus, this event is designed to assist Nigeria to create jobs for young graduates and its citizen in today’s global economy and the strategies to deal with the challenges of growing sustainable development in today’s economy”
In particularly, there was a session that dealt with the renewable electrical energy project presentation in Lagos, Nigeria hosted by the African Diaspora Chamber of Commerce (ADCC)
Also, a town hall meeting allowed participants to discuss numerous investment needs [and solutions] within Nigerian society: health/pharmaceuticals, real estate/construction, hospitality/tourism, and small scale agri-business.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, with a population of over 162 million, and in recent months many US business leaders have focused their attentions to the country. Some have been hesitant to develop an infrastructure their because of safety and security issues. President Goodluck Jonathan has tried to qwell talk of the nation not being safe for investors.
While it’s true that the country has many security challenges, Ekechukwu tells Leadership Newspapers that he offers praise to President Jonathan for the advancements he’s orchestrated.
From the Leadership Newspapers website:
Hailing the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration on the ways it handles security issues in Nigeria, Ekechukwu urged the federal government to find a way to dialogue with the leaders of the Boko Haram Sect in order to make their demands and agitations known as a lasting solution to insecurity in the country.
He also charged the Inspector-General of Police, M.D. Abubakar, the newly appointed National Security Adviser to the federal government, Sambo Dasuki and other security experts in Nigeria to find a way of tracking all the politicians that were alledged to be sponsoring the activities of Boko Haram members in the Northern Nigeria.
To close the conference, NIDO Americas presented a series of awards to notable individuals who have worked tirelessly to advance positive US-Nigerian relations over the years. The award recipients were:
Nigerian Ambassador to the US Professor Ade Adefuye
Former US Ambassador to Nigeria Howard Jeter
Outstanding Nigerian businessman Alhaji Aliko Dangote
Nigerian Businessman of the Year Dr. Earnest Azudualu
Good Image Award recipient Tuface Idibia
IN MEMORIAM (RIP) Dayo Sanusi
Nigeria has a growing young population. Many attendees commented that the nation was on the cusp of advancing and improving its business prowess around the globe.
One conference attendee said, “The conference is necessary because Nigeria is thriving right now. There are many areas where both the US and Nigeria can grow and cultivate a stronger business relationship.”
NIDO Americas has seeked to advance sustainable development in Nigeria since its inception in 2000. The nonprofit organization represents Nigerians residing in North and South America, including the Caribbean, and provides a networking platform for Diaspora Nigerian professionals. NIDO has chapters all over the world. NIDO-DC and iNOVA are just two of the local chapters.
If you would like to learn more about NIDO feel free to contact Franklin Ekechukwu at 202-710-4069, or check out the group’s website.