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Cablegate: 12th Nigerian Economic Summit

VZCZCXYZ0019
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUJA #1632/01 1781524
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 271524Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6273
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 4480
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

UNCLAS ABUJA 001632

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE PASS TO USTR FOR C. HAMILTON
TREASURY FOR DAN PETERS
USDOC FOR 3317/ITA/OA/KBURRESS
USDOC FOR 3130/USFC/OIO/ANESA/DHARRIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EFIN ECON EINV EPET NI
SUBJECT: 12TH NIGERIAN ECONOMIC SUMMIT


1. SUMMARY. On June 7-9 2006, the NESG and NPC sponsored the
12th Nigerian Economic Summit, "Sustaining Reform and
Unlocking Nigeria's Potential". President Obasanjo
delivered the opening address and closing remarks. Nigeria
has to improve on its ranking from the lowest quarter (88
out of 117) in global competitiveness. Passage of key
legislation, increased foreign direct investment and more
efficient delivery of infrastructure and services are
needed. Discussions on oil and gas concluded that a real and
creditable political solution is needed in the Niger Delta
to avoid more serious problems down the road. End Summary.

2. From June 7-9, 2006, the 12th Nigerian Economic Summit
was held in Abuja. This annual event is sponsored by the
Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the GON's National
Planning Commission (NPC). The NESG is a non-partisan
private sector organization that champions an open private
sector-led globally competitive economy. Summit participants
came from the public and private sectors and in and outside
of Nigeria. Ministries of Finance, Commerce, Central Bank of
Nigeria, the World Bank, and the United Nations made
presentations. A former Department of State, Deputy
Assistance Secretary, Thomas Woods, spoke on U.S. Policies
in Africa. The United Nations launched a Global Compact
local network that fifteen local corporations signed onto.
The Global Compact seeks to promote responsible corporate
citizenship so that business can be part of the solution to
the challenges of globalization.

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3. The theme for this years' summit was, "Sustaining Reform
and Unlocking Nigeria's Potential". The two days focused on
Human Development & Private Sector Competitiveness, and
Governance, Institutions and Fiscal Management and
Financing. The summit broke down further into roundtables,
open forums, mini sessions and policy commissions. The
policy commissions were specific topics such as
infrastructure, agriculture, investment climate and
competitiveness, non-oil/non agriculture, governance, and
oil and gas.

4. President Obasanjo gave the opening and closing remarks
for the three day event. At the closing ceremony a
summary was officially presented to the body with the
president in attendance that highlighted the background of
the NES, the gains made since its' inception, unfinished
business, and key challenges for the way forward.

Challenges
-----------

5. Nigeria's economic position with the rest of the world is
one challenge. Nigeria in ranked in the lowest quarter
(88th out of 117 countries) among investment destinations
based on global competitiveness. Some of the countries that
scored below were Kenya, The Gambia, Zimbabwe and Cameroon.
Literacy is moving downward in the 15-29 age group. Other
problems include poor infrastructure, power outages, recent
telephone strikes, corruption, major delays at the ports
(average 45 day clearance) and the continual disruptions in
the Niger Delta.

The Gains
---------

6. In spite of these challenges there have been gains, the
sovereign ratings from Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poors,
the ongoing consolidation of the banking sector, settlement
of debt to the Paris Club, the World Bank approval of the
Policy Support Instrument based on the Nigeria Economic
Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS).1

The Way Forward
---------------

7. To move Nigeria further forward strengthening
institutions and passing critical legislation are key. With
the national elections next year it will be important to
institutionalize many recent reforms in the law. Some of the
most important laws before the legislature are Fiscal
Responsibility, NEITI, Antitrust, Tax Reforms and
Agricultural Procurement. Private sector growth must anchor
the economic development strategy, supported by an
institutionalized commitment to democracy, law and order,
good governance and international diplomacy. Nigeria needs
more foreign direct investment, to create employment, and
plan that integrates the oil and gas sector. Participants
called on Nigeria to expand the agricultural sector and
instill a work ethic that frowns on corrupt practices, to
build a global competitive environment with a reliable
infrastructure.

Oil and Gas: Focus on the Delta

8. The discussion on the oil and gas sector soon gravitated
to the chronic problems in the Niger Delta. The discussion
concluded that throwing more money at the problem was not
the answer; GON needed to reach a political solution within
the next two years. Otherwise, discussants feared, greater
unrest that could spread throughout the country. These
comments unfortunately were not part of the summary that was
presented at the closing ceremonies with President Obasanjo
in attendance.
FUREY

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