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Africa’s Most Important Gathering Will Be Dominated by a Man Who Won’t Even Be There

Bobby Ghosh |Quartz   in  ·
June 2, 2015

When the World Economic Forum’s Africa summit opens in Cape Town on Wednesday, the center of attention will not be Jacob Zuma, president of the host nation, or any of the politicians, philanthropists, or business leaders among the 1,250 delegates—from 75 countries—attending the continent’s biggest business and economics gathering of the great and the good. The man on everyone’s mind will not even be there: Muhammadu Buhari, the newly sworn-in president of Nigeria.

Sure, there will be much discussion on the continent’s challenges and opportunities. There will also be much deal-making on the sidelines: business leaders say the regional WEF gatherings are more conducive to clinching deals than the annual conclave in Davos, which is better suited to higher-altitude deliberations on global issues.

But it’s a fair bet that the majority of those gathered in the Cape Town International Convention Center will have their eyes turned toward Aso Rock, the presidential palace in Abuja. As Africa’s biggest country—and, as of last year, its largest economy—Nigeria’s fate has an enormous bearing on practically everyone at the WEF event.

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