Members of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as the officials of Dubai are anxiously awaiting President Muhammadu Buhari’s response confirming Nigeria’s participation at Expo 2020 Dubai that will run for six months from 20th October 2020 till 10th April 2021.
The expo which is focusing on Africa, organised a Global Business Forum Africa which was attended by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Uganda President Yoweri Museveni. Ghana had top government representation but Nigeria officials were absent. Nadia Verjee, Senior Vice President, Expo 2020 said that a letter of invitation to participate in the event was sent directly to the Nigerian President by the Ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of UAE Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and receipt was acknowledged but that there was no response yet.
She said that more than 150 countries had already confirmed their participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, including some African nations. According to the organisers “At the recent International Participants Meeting on 19th October, 29 nations signed their official participation contracts for Expo 2020 Dubai. Of these 29 countries, 11 were from Africa.
They are Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Lesotho, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Togo. Both the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Emirates officials saw Africa as the future of global economic growth. They argued that while other continents saw slow to negative growth in their economies, African countries’ economies were growing at double digit level. It is therefore the natural thing to focus on Africa.
Construction work is currently going on at the venue of the expo, a 430 hectares of land with lay out for three distinct pavilions. Mobility pavilion which will be set up by participating countries will eventually be dismantled and rebuilt for residency to be known as Expo 2020 village.
There will also be the sustainability pavilion consisting of permanent structures that will be converted to public utility after the expo. The other pavilion is to be called opportunity. The expo will target youths, small and medium enterprises with a view to inspiring, educating and showcasing talents in future leaders.
Marjan Faraidooni, Senior Vice President, Legacy Development said that after the expo part of the land will be built for housing tenants for which developers were already falling on each other to do. She also said that two four star hotels will be built in the area.
Three power stations are being constructed to serve the expo. A total of $6.8 billion has been budgeted as capital outlay for the expo. Dubai authority is constructing a metro line that will serve the expo. Faraidooni said that a total of 25 million visitors are being expected during the six months period that the event will hold. She said that the venue of the expo will be ready by October 2019, one year before the event so that the facilities at the venue can be tested.
The authority of Expo 2020 Dubai has made provision of Live programme allocation of $100 million to back projects that offer creative solutions to pressing challenges that impact people’s lives, or help preserve the world or both most of which are from Africa. The programme it is gathered was launched in January 2017, following a pilot phase last year.
It aims to stimulate innovation that has a social benefit by supporting projects with funding, business guidance and promotion. Successful applicants will also have the chance to showcase their work to many millions of visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai. The programme will grant up to $100,000 per initiative to be made available incrementally, linked to progress and results. During the first two cycles of the programme, 45 Expo Live Global Innovators from 30 countries were selected. A number of these programmes operate in Africa. The Africa-focused programmes are Attollo, Transport for Cairo, Yomken, Kitenergy Srl, Eco Fuels, WAVE, MOBicure, babyl, Nuru Energy, Munch bowls, Ignitia, Land Life, Ver2 and Desolenator.
Two Nigerians are among the 16 innovators granted $100,000 each by Expo Dubai 2020 live to participate in the 2020 event. The grant of $100,000 each is to aid the innovators to expand their project and impact the lives of rural dwellers. The two Nigerian innovators are Dr. Emmanuel Owobu co-founder of OMOMI and Misan Rewane, CEO of WAVE
Organisers have promised that for participating countries and their businesses, Expo 2020 Dubai will serve as a platform for international collaboration, fostering innovation and creating partnerships that will live far beyond 2020. The expo is the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, and the first to be hosted by an Arab nation. According to the organisers the expo will be the first one to be held in the developing world, and will be for the developing world. The UAE which is hosting the event wants Expo 2020 to serve Africa’s interests and provide a platform for connections to be made by, and for, its African partners whether they are government, business or visitors.
The theme of the event, Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, is guided by the belief that innovation and progress are the result of people and ideas coming together in new and unique ways. The Expo 2020 it was learnt will be a celebration of creativity, innovation, humanity and world cultures. It will be a time to create and renew connections that will strengthen and deepen through 2020 and beyond and a time to do business.
Emirates Vice President, Commercial Operations Africa, Orhan Abbas said in Dubai that the airline will resume two daily flights from Dubai to Lagos and four weekly flights to Abuja beginning from 15th December this year. This will make it 18, the total weekly flights by Emirates into Nigeria.
According to him, “Nigeria is a key market for Emirates and its importance is reflected by the fact that we will add 11 weekly flights between Dubai and two major cities in Nigeria, Abuja and Lagos. This is great news for both our business and leisure customers and highlights our commitment to providing travellers in Nigeria with not only the very latest in aircraft innovations but also increased connectivity”.
Expo 2020 organisers said they understood the challenges and opportunities associated with the ‘youth bulge’ occurring across MEASA and was working hard to ensure the engagement and inclusion of young people through a variety of initiatives, including an apprenticeship programme, school roadshows and the University Innovation Challenge. The expo will not be for the elderly and business alone, youths from all nationalities and backgrounds are also expected to make up a significant proportion of the more than 30,000 volunteers that will be the face of Expo 2020.
They will benefit from work-ready skills and an unrivalled experience through 47 strategic volunteering roles. More than 180 nations are expected to take part in Expo 2020 Dubai, as well as businesses, non-governmental organisations and educational institutions from all over the world. Each participating country will have its own pavilion as part of Expo 2020 Dubai’s one nation, one pavilion policy – making Expo 2020 the first World Expo in history where every country will have its own pavilion. This policy ensures equality among all nations.
Countries can choose to build their own pavilion, rent an Expo-built pavilion or be included in Expo’s assisted pavilion programme. All Expo built pavilions will be transformed after Expo as part of legacy’s District 2020 district. Country pavilions will be located according to their chosen sub theme and not based on geography, encouraging dialogue and the cross pollination of ideas between countries with similar interests, who may otherwise have been less likely to connect
Each pavilion will have two levels. The lower level will allow countries to tell their unique story, showcasing their achievements, insights and knowledge, as well as the opportunities that exist within their nation. The upper level will allow countries to host dialogue between themselves and other nations, businesses and organisations, helping to create and deepen connections and opportunities – which could lead to solutions to pressing problems.
The deliberate design of the Expo 2020 site is based on the belief that collaboration and communication are key to overcoming global problems. Expo 2020 will partner with participating nations to create an engaging programme of events that allows everyone to showcase and celebrate their cultures, as well as facilitate strategic meetings, conferences and workshops
The organisers are working hard to integrate companies of all sizes from around the world into its planning and delivery to reflect the spirit of Expo and to spread the opportunities as far as possible, while helping to deliver its commitment to host a remarkable World Expo that leaves a lasting legacy for generations. In addition to large businesses, Expo 2020 Dubai supports the full involvement of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from around the world.
SME integration will continue to stimulate employment, strengthen industries, improve competitiveness and ultimately contribute to sustainable economic growth. As a result of the recognition of the role SMEs play as the life blood of many economies globally, Expo has committed to allocating 20 per cent of its contracts to them and has developed a procurement process that deliberately encourages their participation
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