Niger Delta Development Forum: regional challenges and opportunities

30 June, 2015

Considering the complex security and economic challenges facing the people of the Niger Delta and identifying new opportunities for regional and international collaboration

Niger Delta Development Forum: delivering sustainable and equitable socioeconomic improvement through industrial diversification

Tuesday 23 June 2015 | WP1402

Building on the work of the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative (NDPI), this Wilton Park roundtable forum brought together a wide range of stakeholders from the public and private sector to find new strategies to promote equitable economic growth in the Niger Delta.

Held in association with NDPI, and with support from UK Trade & Investment and the UK Department for International Development, the meeting aimed to:

  • Evaluate the opportunities and challenges of doing business or investing in the Niger Delta
  • Identify tangible steps for instituting new types of collaboration and partnerships for the region’s social, economic, and human development
  • Outline the means by which partners could establish a more resilient and diversified economy beyond the region’s oil and gas sector
  • Develop realistic and implementable plans to create a truly enabling environment for regional growth and equitable prosperity for all

Participants included experts from civil society groups, including those working at regional and local levels to promote sustainable peace and socioeconomic growth; representatives of multinational corporations including development finance institutions, agri-businesses, development consultancies and international oil and gas companies; local government officials, policy makers, and academics.

Some of the key points arising in discussions were:

  • Rent seeking has come to dominate the economy of the Niger Delta through political patronage, extortion and illegal oil bunkering. As a fundamentally domestic process, the region needs to drive a major behavioural change. The loss of political power and fall in oil prices presents a ‘window of opportunity’ to transition to normal cities with effective organisations using scale connectivity and clustering together to form an effective and growing economy.
  • The election of General Muhammadu Buhari as the new Nigerian President presents an opportunity for development. Great optimism surrounds the new administration, particularly regarding Buhari’s zero-tolerance approach to corruption and military expertise to defeat the growing threat posed by Boko Haram militants.
  • Oil bunkering is deeply integrated into the politics, economics and business of the region, with a large number of people complicit in the theft. Oil companies have internationalised the problem, coining the term ‘blood oil’ reflective of the blood diamond campaign. Participants agreed that Nigeria needs to own the problem with the support of the international community to strengthen maritime security.
  • As the largest investment and revenue generator for local government, the oil and gas industry has become an unhealthy preoccupation in the region. Participants agreed that new strategies for socioeconomic development must promote growth without increasing dependency on oil and gas, such as solar or hydro energy and agri-businesses.

The public and private sector must not pursue interests in isolation but work together with regular dialogue to identify and pursue development opportunities. Information-sharing is key to enhancing mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships and market competition to increase investment opportunities and appetite in the region.

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Conference: Niger Delta Development Forum

 

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