by Olatunji Saliu
ABUJA, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Global players and leaders will meet to discuss opportunities and solutions to Africa's economic problems at the annual meeting which kicks off Wednesday in Abuja, capital of Nigeria.
More than 900 delegates from across the globe, including business elites, scholars and political leaders, will attend the three-day meeting to discuss key economic development issues.
Committed to improving the state of the world through facilitation of engagement between businesses, the civil society and government, the World Economic Forum has contributed largely to political and socioeconomic developments in Africa, a continent regarded as one of the fastest growing in the world.
Over the years, in its efforts to reduce poverty in Africa, the multi-stakeholder meeting has created many opportunities for action-oriented dialogues for global leaders and players from all sectors to make projections and analyze prospects for economic growth.
It is instructive to say that, in order to achieve the much- needed inclusive growth, African countries need to up their game in creating an enabling environment for foreign direct investments to thrive.
To grow better and surmount economic problems on the continent, the forum, themed "Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs," will seek, among others, to steer forward the wheel of progress among African countries, while also creating the right solutions to the clogs in the wheel of adequate structural transformation.
In an interview with Xinhua, Elsie Kanza, director and head of Africa at the World Economic Forum, said the continent needs all the partners that it can get, to mobilize all the investments it needs for its economic growth and transformation.
Africa, through different efforts made on the continent, has managed to grow, with many of its countries depending heavily on export of their primary commodities. However, the growth has little or no impact on poverty alleviation, thereby causing increasing inequality.
What's more, unemployment rate is noted to be high in Africa, mostly among young people. For this reason, the stakeholders at the high-level meeting are expected to brainstorm on how to create a path for inflow of new jobs and change the situation.
As the largest economy in the continent, Nigeria, the host of the 24th World Economic Forum on Africa, will focus on stimulating more foreign investments so as to meet the target of being one of the top 20 economies in the world by 2020, according to President Goodluck Jonathan.
During a periodic media chat on national television last Sunday, he said his government had provided a good environment for foreign investments to flourish with enabling policies and program.
Sarah Anyanwu, a perceptive expert in Nigeria appraised the inherent benefits which Nigeria stands to gain from the global economic gathering.
According to her, with a population of 170 million, Nigeria was by all means attractive to any reasonable investor. The forum, she noted, will provide a veritable platform for Nigeria to sensitize foreign investors to the benefits of investing in the country.
"It is true that Nigeria's infrastructure is not at its best but it is being upgraded. Roads are being rehabilitated. New ones are being constructed and the rail sector is witnessing a revolution," she said.
The networking, which the forum engendered, would aid efforts to improve foreign exchange earnings, balance of payment and terms of trade, the analyst explained, stressing that the long-term effects of such favorable trade arrangements included employment creation and reduction in poverty level, as well as other multiplier effects.
"One should recognize the fact that attracting investments in the agric sector will modernize agriculture and bring about food security," she quipped, saying, nonetheless, the security situation in Africa's most populous country was not bad enough to scare away investors.
All in all, as delegates settle down for the 2014 World Economy Forum on Africa, there is the need to channel more pragmatic efforts toward harnessing the investment potential of the continent for inclusive growth and job creation.