Two Nigerian diaspora conferences this month have selected Atlanta are coming to Atlanta, lending credence to the city’s efforts to position itself as a portal for African business ties.
“Atlanta is one of our main African cities,” said Sylvanus Wosu, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh who is helping organize the annual convention of the Rivers State Foundation Inc. Located in the Niger River delta where much of the country’s oil production is centered, Rivers is one of 36 Nigerian states.
Dr. Wosu said he expects about 250 attendees at the Atlanta event Sept. 4-7, which was slated to host former President Goodluck Jonathan, who was defeated in elections earlier this year. Mr. Jonathan will no longer be able to attend, Dr. Wosu said, but Rivers State Executive Governor Nyesom Ezebunwo Wike is still on the agenda. The theme is “Rivers State in the Diaspora: Advancing Economic Transformation. More info here.
A similar theme will underpin another conference later in the month focused on Africa’s second-largest economy. The Nigerians in Diaspora Organization’s Americas branch will host its annual general meeting in Atlanta Sept. 17-21 at the Cobb Galleria, focusing on “Nigeria: Building Partnerships and Leveraging the Diaspora Human Resources.”
Andrew Young, the former Atlanta mayor and ambassador to the United Nations, has long said one of the city’s strengths is its connections with the Nigerian diaspora, who constitute one of the best-educated international communities in the U.S. as a whole. A significant proportion are physicians. The NIDO conference picks up on that theme:
“Indeed, many Diaspora are working in skill sectors that are of critical importance to their home countries. Others have contacts with business partners and potential investors in their host countries and are capable of facilitating investment in trade and investment,” the conference flyer reads.
Speakers are to include Atlanta-based Consul General Geoffrey Teneilabe, Plateau State Executive Governor Bako Lalong; former governor of Cross Rivers State and presidential hopeful Donald Duke; Sani Dangote, group vice president of the Dangote conglomerate and others.
Learn more here.