Mayor Kasim Reed has postponed a fall business mission to Nigeria, but his travel schedule will still stay packed through the later part of the year.
A spokeswoman for the mayor pointed to the U.S. travel warning as reasoning for postponing a trip to Nigeria that the mayor and his team had been planning since earlier this year. Global Atlanta first reported in May that the mayor was reconsidering the trip over security concerns.
The warning highlights the threat of Islamic extremists from Boko Haram, a group whose infamous profile was raised earlier this year by the “#bringbackourgirls” Twitter campaign demanding its leaders release nearly 300 girls they kidnapped in the northeastern village of Chibok. Added to the warning in July was news that a few cases of the Ebola virus had been confirmed in the country.
Boko Haram’s attacks had been mostly contained in the northeast, but recent bomb attacks in Abuja, the capital, and a reported threat on a Western hotel in Lagos have prompted fears – some say unfounded – that the group has expanded its reach beyond its traditional area of influence.
Though only 16 cases have been confirmed in Nigeria, Ebola has come to Lagos, the country’s economic hub and Atlanta’s sister city, where Delta Air Lines Inc. operates a nonstop flight from Atlanta and where the mayor planned to travel.
The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned against undue interruption of air travel to affected regions, but the impact of the outbreak on Africa’s economy is expected to be significant.
The International Monetary Fund has said the outbreak could dent Guinea’s GDP growth by a full point this year, and Liberia and Sierra Leone are expected to be hit hard as well.
Mr. Reed still plans to go to Cape Town, South Africa, in mid-October for the Nobel Peace Prize laureates conference, an event that Atlanta will host in 2015.
The mayor is also adding a trip this week to Tianjin, China, where he will participate in a regional event for the World Economic Forum, a group he has begun to invest more time in after speaking at its global summit in Davos, Switzerland, in January.
“He’ll be participating in conversations with other city and corporate leaders about the future of urban development and smart technologies for cities, among other topics,” said Melissa Mullinax, a spokeswoman for the mayor.
The Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2014 program lists Mr. Reed as a speaker on a panel on “circular” business models with executives from companies such as SABMiller, Brightstar and Royal DSM. The panel will be moderated by the editor-at-large of the Harvard Business Review.