What prospects does the hosting of WEFA hold for Nigeria’s child?
Between May 7 and 9th 2014, Nigeria broke history by hosting the 24th edition of the World Economic Forum on Africa (24th WEFA). It was the first time the global event took place on the soil of West Africa since the African edition was convened in Switzerland in 1990.
The WEFA themed, “Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs” has been acclaimed as the most successful of the Forum meetings thus far. It brought together leading political, business and civil society individuals to debate on how to tackle Africa’s biggest challenge: to create a continent of increased prosperity and strong communities; of strong governments delivering quality services and leaving no one behind. From inception World Economic Forum meetings are distinguished by their ability to enable and promote active participation of government, business and civil society figures, boththe most experienced and the most promising, all working together in the collaborative and collegial Spirit of Davos.
Nigeria began its thrust to host the event in 2012 at the 22nd WEFA which was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. When Nigeria’s slot for hosting the event was fully stamped in Davos, Switzerland in January this year, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala stated that the august event was coming at a time when Nigeria is becoming more integrated into global capital markets and when the country’s aspirations to attract foreign investment into non-mineral sectors is becoming increasingly viable.
Among the many of benefits of WEFA to Nigeria was the attraction of over 68 billion dollars (about N12.9 trillion) in investment to the African continent in the form of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) as well as private and public investments targeted at projects that would foster the agriculture sector, improve infrastructure such as roads, railways, hospitals, education, skill development and ICT across African countries. In response to the abduction of Chibok schoolgirls the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Mr. Gordon Brown created a $20billion ‘Safe School Initiative Fund’ to develop and enhance education in the terrorism-ravaged areas of Nigeria. The Nigerian Government has committed US10b to this Fund while the other half comes from the UN.
Among the highlights of the WEFA was the
announcement by the Federal Government of Nigeria that it
had concluded arrangement to partner with US Agency for International
Development on a $20m health scheme programme to build capacity of primary
health services in the country.
“The programme known as Healthy Margination Mother and Child Initiative will have each of the partners contributing toward the $20m in the first phase over the next five year. This is to reduce preventable maternal and infant mortality rates in Nigeria,’’ he stated.
The minister added that the programme would support the midwives scheme, especially in using technology to build their skills, noting that there was the need to grow skills in the health sector to enhance service delivery.
According to him “Nigeria still comprises a large share of the world’s burden of child and maternal, morbidity and mortality. Infant mortality in Nigeria has seen a 38 per cent reduction to 78 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2012. These positive trends are indicative of the Nigerian government’s genuine commitment and sustained investment for maternal and newborn health, where notable progress has been made over the past few years. We have hired over 60,000 new healthcare workers that are today providing better services to expectant mothers. It is however estimated that 22,000 more expectant mothers are now receiving care during pregnancy.
“Clearly, there is still more to do and with partnerships like this, we can achieve our goals through our Save One Million Lives programme,” he said.
In the words of the Nigeria Mission Director of USAID, Mr Michael Harvey, “Indeed, programme with the potential to improve the health and wellbeing of the population are critical focus of USAID’s activities in Nigeria.