Cablegate: Nigeria: Commonwealth-Africa Investment Forum -- A

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. The Commonwealth Business Council (UK's equivalent to the
Corporate Council for Africa) in coordination with the GON,
hosted the annual Commonwealth-Africa Investment Forum in
Abuja April 22-24. Embassy contacts at the British High
Commission reported that while the Forum was successful,
nothing of significance occurred.

2. President Wade of Senegal was the only Head of State to
attend, although Ministers from all Anglophone African
countries participated, including South Africa's Trade
Minister at the head of the largest African delegation.
Attendance from the developed world was small; approximately
25 UK citizens were here, all from private companies either
already on the ground in Nigeria or looking to enter the
market or veterans of non-government organizations. In
addition, a small number of private companies from
non-Commonwealth European capitals attended. Unlike last
year, no U.S. company was present.

3. Discussion at the Forum, according to the BHC Economic
Office, focused primarily on two issues: barriers in Africa
prohibiting foreign direct investment (FDI) and the
governance agenda. However, the discussion did not result
in any new conclusions as to why Africa is not receiving more
of global FDI. Many Africans expressed significant
frustration that FDI flows have not increased.

4. Comment. This year's Commonwealth Forum appears to have
been a non-event, the latest in a growing string of
low-impact efforts to increase private sector interest in
Africa. The World Tourism Organization's Commission for
Africa's held its 38th annual meeting in Abuja this week, and
this, too, proved lackluster. Vice President Atiku
Abubakar's chosen stand-in sent his own stand-in, who opened
proceedings three hours behind schedule. While events such
as the Tourism Commission meeting and the Commonwealth Forum
can showcase comfortable accommodations and modern conference
facilities, they cannot make Nigeria a destination for
tourists or FDI. Nevertheless, GON efforts to substitute
showy manifestations for much-needed reforms are unlikely to
cease. End Comment.

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